Getting a new bed or mattress is a welcome relief for anyone’s back – but the moans and groans usually return when it comes to getting rid of the old one, not least because knowing how to dispose of an old bed or mattress in a way which is both environmentally responsible and low cost seems to be something of an impossibility. Often, identifying how not to get rid of it can be the best way to find out the options left to you… so what should you avoid in your quest for responsible disposal and recycling of your mattress?
1. Avoid Fly-Tipping
Fly tipping (abandoning unwanted bulky items on roadsides or tucked away public thoroughfares) is not just illegal, it also displays a lack of environmental responsibility and community consideration, particularly in respect of public health and safety. If you are caught you could be fined up to £20,000 and also given a custodial sentence of up to 6 months. Instead of fly-tipping, consider how you could dispose of your bed more responsibly.
2. Don’t just get rid of it because it’s taking up space
Many people want to dispose of an old bed in favour of a new one, even though the old one may still be in a serviceable condition. If your mattress is clean and free from stains and splits, it may well be useful to a family on low income or a charity which supports those in need. Consider recycling to charity, rather than just dumping your bed.
3. Don’t just drop your old bed off at the landfill
Although your bed might seem like rubbish to you and you’re willing to take the trouble to haul it over to the local landfill site, it’s worth remembering that it actually contains materials which can be ethically and responsibly recycled. Companies such as Collect Your Old Bed can recycle mattress materials either back into the bed industry or into other industries which can make use of them, for example:
- Mattress foam can be recycled into carpet backing and insulation.
- Fibres and fabrics such as cotton, polyester and felt from mattresses and divans can be recycled as textile elements across various industries, including the bed industry.
- Steel springs: steel is wonderfully durable and is never going to bio-degrade, so dumping ‘responsibly’ into landfill is harmful to the environment – especially when you consider that a recent estimate from the University of Arts, London puts the UK average at about 7 million mattresses into landfill each year! Instead, steel could be recycled time and again without affecting its performance, so the steel wire used to create springs in the mattress or bed box can be recycled across many other industries.
- Wood: the wood from a bed box or frame can be chipped up and recycled as garden mulch, pet bedding and even used as bio-mass fuel.
4. Don’t think that contacting your local council is your only option
The good news is that most local councils do offer bulky item collection, but the bad news is that the majority of councils, up to 75% of them, now charge for this service. A benefit of the service is that you don’t have to go to the hassle of transporting your mattress to the local tip yourself, plus you have the knowledge that you’re disposing of your old bed in a responsible way, but you’ll also probably have a long wait (of up to a fortnight with some councils) before your item is picked up, as well as that non-negotiable cost.
It’s also worth knowing than most councils will not enter your premises but expect the bed to be left outside for collection… not always possible for the elderly or disabled. Although contacting your council to check on bulky waste collection is advisable, don’t just pay up and wait straight away… check out community collection and private collection services to compare the prices, it’s likely you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Finally, forget the idea that if you’ve had trouble disposing of a mattress in the past then it’ll be the same this time around. Don’t let past experience put you off but instead investigate what’s on offer in your local area. With the increasing problem of fly-tipping and ethical disposal since they’ve introduced fees for bulky waste, many councils are creating recycling alternatives, both to help out local households and the local environment. As reported in the BBC, Rhondda Cynon Taf council have been quick to act proactively to offer a mattress recycling service to address a current situation which sees fly-tipped beds as well as over 300 mattresses languishing in the area’s landfill every week. Similarly, private mattress collection companies, with good links to recycling plants are springing up nationwide and can offer a more affordable service than many councils, which increases your disposal options – especially now you know what not to do!