End of life mattress recovery, recycling and refurbishment is a valuable activity that delivers significant environmental and economic benefits. For every tonne of used mattress material recycled there is an estimated 1.5 tonnes of Co2e savings in greenhouse gas material and landfill space preserved.
Recycling mattresses is surprisingly complex; requirng dismantling and separation processes that requires significant capital investment to undertake safely. While not common, sub-standard handling and processing of end of life mattresses has been known to:
Act as a vector to allow parasites (mites, bed bugs) and contagious disease (via infected blood, sweat, urine, faeces) to be transmitted across the community;
Create OH&S risks (lifting, eye injuries and lacerations), contribute to lung disease (inhalation of fibrers and dusts), and increase the risk of fire at storage facilities;
Result in illegal dumping and other unlawful disposal methods; and
Take up significant landfill space and lead to instability within the fill.
Dismantling and shredding of mattresses for recycling and/or landfill space reduction generates a very large quantity of small lightweight mobile plastic pieces - ranging in size to as small as nano-scale dusts and fibres (around the thickness of a human hair). These materials have toxic properties and represent a substanial health risk to workers and major envionmental impacts.
We here at Mid-Counties Waste Management Services can provide the sevice and collection of these matresses nationwide. Our bespoke collection vehicles and fully trained staff are fully aware of the risks that these infected products can have on the environment and take full precautions when collecting and disposing of the units.
We currently provide this service for local authorities across the country, we collect from all the local amenity sites and take the units away for re processing rather than the landfill method.
The collection points can be planned and booked in advance, we can provide the service for Schools, Colleges and Universities, Care homes and Hospitals. We have contracts with local hostels and are on the tender supply list for the prison service nationwide. We also support the local councils with active fly tipping collections.
The process is a manual process, where the units are delivered into a recycling, fully permitted facility. The staff, hand strip the units, separate the materials into various grades dependant on the quality, and condition of the coverings. The pocket springs are all now individually wrapped in their own small convening for comfort and need to be individually separated from the springs. Again, the material goes for reprocessing, and goes for shredding, it is then turned into things like horse menages and pressed and dyed to make soft tiles for children's play areas.
The worst of the material, the stuff that is badly stained and contaminated, is normally shipped out the country in containers and heads for eastern Europe for waste for energy and fuel for the furnaces.