When it comes to disposing of a mattress and a box spring or divan bed, most of us think of two main options: rubbish or recycling. But although these options exist, how can you be sure either of them mean responsible disposal?Waste waysThere are two main waste disposal options available in most areas of the UK:

    • Landfill disposal: taking your box bed and mattress to the nearest landfill site means your items can be dumped, literally into the ground, where the majority of the bed will not biodegrade and will become one of the 7.5 million beds dumped as waste each year in the UK. With the majority of the bed parts, such as the box springs, being non-biodegradable or causing environmental problems (for example the mattress and box fabrics leaching fire- retardant chemicals into the ground), landfill is a place where old beds damage rather than contribute to the environment.


  • Council Collection: Council collection is a popular choice in most areas. However, there is a significant charge which can vary considerably across the different UK councils (eg: Aylesbury Vale District Council, £75 for up to 3 items; North Somerset Council, £66.50 for a maximum of 6 items; Bristol City Warwick City Council £35 per item). This option can work out both expensive and inconvenient for some households:
    • Particularly with a box-spring and mattress, as some local councils count each piece as a separately chargeable item.
    • All bed parts need to be placed kerbside on collection day, often by 6 a.m. something which is not always possible for elderly, disabled or unable.

Recycling routesThere are many ways to recycle a bed, but some may also prove costly or lead to irresponsible disposal later down the line.

    • Selling online.
      To sell the bed online it has to be in an acceptably good, clean condition. This could involve the costs of having the mattress professionally cleaned, which may mean it’s not worth selling the bed.


    • Donations.
      Donating goods can popularly be done through several online, in-print and in person methods:


      • Online via Freecycle / Freegle or via Facebook groups.
      • GumTree online and local newspapers often run “Free to Collector” classified ads free for advertisers. Although this can be a good way to get your bed picked up and passed on, an additional concern for many people (particularly the elderly or the vulnerable) is that this means strangers coming around to the house to pick up the item. There is also no guarantee that the bed will be ethically disposed of when it does reach the end of its useful life.
      • Donating to a charitable organisation, such as the Salvation Army or British Heart Foundation, or a charity helping others to set up home is possible but beds will need to meet an acceptable criteria, such as having a fire-retardant label. Older beds, or those which are marked in some way may not be accepted – even if still usable. If it is usable but needs a clean first, the cleaning would need to take place before donating, with the costs coming out of your own pocket.
    • Taking it to a recycling centre.
      Although this is a good option for responsible bed disposal, not all local recycling centres are set up for mattress recycling, so it is a good idea to check before setting out. To recycle this way, the hassle of loading and making the journey to transport the bed will be down to you and, as the nearest dedicated bed and mattress recycling centre may be some distance away, the cost and hassle of transporting need to be taken into account.


  • Private collection.
    There are private collection companies whose role is to collect and dispose of beds ethically. However, care should be taken to avoid rogue companies who may charge a fee to ‘recycle’ the item, but who may actually fly tip the item instead of responsibly recycling it.

    To avoid this, it’s recommended that a professionally recognised company should be used, not an unlicensed ‘cash only’ collection service. Using a licensed company such as Collect Your Old Bed, offers the assurance of a fully professional service for convenient collection and removal of the bed from your home, with assured delivery to a dedicated mattress recycling centre where the box base and mattress will be 100% recycled.

The bottom line of disposing of a mattress and box spring is to remember that although it may no longer be useful to your household, and languishing in landfill is no use to the environment, it is still useful – either to another household or to environmental causes, by being responsibly recycled

If you have a mattress to dispose of and the thought of lugging it into landfill doesn’t give rise to even the smallest concern for the local and global environment then yes, you have every right to take the mattress to the tip.But is it the responsible thing to do?Although the advantage of taking a mattress to the tip is that it’s then gone when you need it to be and without financial outlay for yourself, discarding a mattress this way can incur costs of both time and energy from the considerable effort and transport involved – and then there’s the cost to the planet.Of the literally hundreds of thousands of mattresses which are thrown into landfill each year, the majority of these will take up to 50 years to decompose into the ground whilst the toxins they contain, such as formaldehyde (required to make mattresses fire retardant) can leach into the ground – meaning a considerable cost to the planet and disposal which is not at all responsible.Other council amenitiesMany councils offer arranged local council collection to assist in the disposal of bulky items, including mattresses. However, this paid-for collection can prove inconvenient as items usually have to be at roadside by a certain time, which is usually early in the morning.Costs vary between local authorities, for example whilst Birmingham City Council charge £25 and Portsmouth City Council £30, Colchester charges over £40 and Wealden Council charges £50 for up to 3 items, all of which makes council collection an expensive way to do it, especially if you do not have other items to dispose of at the same time. Whilst you can be assured that many councils will recycle the collected mattresses, this is not a given with all mattress collections and you may need to check if you want to ensure you are paying for responsible recycling via council collection.Recycling alternativesBut there are other ways to recycle, especially mattresses which have not reached the end of their useful life span but are no longer required, such as bunk mattresses, when kids grow up and move into bigger singles and even double beds, or when couples upgrade from doubles to King size. Similarly when mattresses are replaced from necessity, when shifting to an orthopaedic mattress after the onset of a physical condition, for example. If the old mattress is still fit for purpose, it can be disposed of by passing it on to another individual or family who may be grateful for the free donation.Free methods for passing mattresses on this way include Freecycle (Freegle) groups or through running ‘free to collector’ classified ads, including online versions such as Gum Tree. Unfortunately though, there are still no guarantees that the passed-on mattress will be responsibly recycled once it does cease to be useful to anyone.Private collectionAnother alternative is to use a private company for collection and disposal of mattresses. However, as with council collections, it is worth checking that the mattress with be responsibly recycled and not just dumped into landfill or, in the case of rogue companies, become a fly-tipped item.To make sure your mattress is in safe hands, always use a reputable company such as Collect Your Old Bed which offers a dedicated service, easy three step Click2Collect online process and offers a guarantee that all mattresses will be 100% recycled, allowing disposal not just in the right way, but the responsible way too.

The new bed has arrived and you’re keen to dispose of your old mattress responsibly… but what are your options for ensuring that your mattress can be reused or recycled? After all, you don’t want to be contributing to the mountain of mattresses languishing in landfill, which receives 73% of the 5.9 million mattresses which are replaced in the UK each year (based on average figures from 2014*).

Reuse, not refuse

Rather than dumping a mattress at the local landfill, research locally for a charity or furniture re-use service, who would appreciate the use of your unwanted bed / mattress. To do this though, the bed and mattress need to be in a good, usable condition. The mattress particularly needs to be clean, without stains or rips, and must carry a fire safety label. The British Heart Foundation’s furniture donation service offers some good information about the requirement of fire safety labels.If your bed’s safety label has been removed, it doesn’t meet the required standards, or there’s no charity locally which is taking beds and mattresses, then the online re-use groups Freegle and Freecycle often post requests from families looking for beds. Alternatively, once you’ve joined your local online group, you could offer your bed as free for collection. In this case, it is always worth listing your bed as ‘collection only’ if you do not have transport, otherwise many of the replies you received will be requesting you to deliver the mattress for free, something not everyone is able to do.

Recycle responsibly

Recycling your mattress responsibly is another option which many households explore and there are several ways to achieve this:

  • Local council recycling centres
    • With most local councils it’s free to drop items such as mattresses at the local recycling centre. To do this, always check opening times and any restrictions in advance. This is particularly important if you’re one of the many people whose vehicle is not big enough for a SuperKing mattress, so you are going to have to organise transport to drop the mattress off.
  • Local Authority collection services for bulky items
    • Beds and mattresses are considered to be ‘bulky items’ so most local authorities will charge for a collection. The prices for this vary across the UK (there is a useful price-checking facility on the Collect Your Old Bed areas page) and additionally many councils other conditions for collection, such as the mattress being kerb-side by 6.30 am on the day of collection, something which the elderly, disabled or those living alone are not easily able to do.
  • Private collection services
  • There are now a considerable number of companies in the UK offering private collection and mattress disposal services. However, when choosing a private collection service it’s vital to ensure that the company you’re hiring is licensed, reputable and professional. Ask to see relevant licences to help you identify the type of recycling on offer and to ensure that you’re not just paying someone who will ultimately end up fly-tipping your mattress as soon as they have driven away with your mattress (and your cash).

Reputable companies such as Collect Your Old Bed offer easy and convenient services both for arranging and then collecting your mattresses. Arranging the service just requires completing a three-step online process, which allows you to choose a convenient collection date. On the day of collection, the Collect Your Old Bed team will collect the mattress from inside the house if required, bringing you convenience, as well as a full guarantee of 100% recycling for your mattress disposal.

Dispose of your old mattress in 3 simple steps

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