Mattress recycling is not easy to carry out. Here is all you need to know about recycling a mattress at home. Some of the materials may be useful to you, and some not. But first, why recycle a mattress and not just have it collected for disposal? There are three major reasons for that:
- Having a mattress collected from your home can be expensive. It is not a small item, and can be costly to have it collected and disposed of.
- Mattresses take up a lot of space as landfill. If all the mattresses in landfill in the USA were lined up in a row, they would stretch round the entire world. Not only that, but landfill containing many mattresses would be dangerous to build over. The mattresses would slowly degrade and the space they take up would be liable to subsidence.
- The various materials that comprise a mattress can sometimes be useful. Foams can be washed and shredded for further use, and wool fabrics and padding can be recycled as textiles or spun into yarn. Metal frames and springs can be melted down and reused in a number of ways.
It should be stated here that you have no need to recycle your mattress yourself. Most local authorities or waste collection services will collect your mattress for disposal if you request them to. However, it will cost money and your mattress will likely be used for landfill. Here is how to recycle a mattress at home.
Recycling a Mattress at Home
Mattress recycling begins by deconstructing the mattress and separating the various materials used to manufacture it. The following procedure is carried out at your own risk. It is fairly straightforward, although we assume no responsibility if you injure yourself while following these instructions.
First, you will need some tools. Depending on the construction of your mattress, these may include:
- A manual screwdriver or chisel
- A sharp cutting tool
- A pair of pliers
The Steps Needed to Begin Your Mattress Recycling:
A: Innerspring Mattress
If you have an innerspring mattress you want to recycle, first you must remove your mattress from the bed and lay it on a flat surface. You could lay it on the floor of your bedroom, on your patio on a dry day, or any other flat surface within or outside of your home.
Using a sharp knife or razor, slit around all four sides. A Stanley knife would be ideal for this. You may also use a sharp craft knife, although the blade should be sufficiently long and sharp to cut through the padding down to the hollow part of the mattress. Now cut down deep enough to reach the part of the mattress just above the springs. Cut around all the edges of that layer until you expose the springs.
Rip off all the layers above the springs. You should now have the springs exposed. This may be a single continuous spring layout (Bonell springs) or individual springs connected with wire. You might also find a layer of springs contained within their individual pockets. Remove all the layers of fabric and foam until only the springs are showing. What next?
Next is to flip the mattress so you can do the same on the other side. Once more, cut away the fabric and padding until you get down to the bare spring layer. If you have any problems removing the padding, particularly from areas of heavy use, then use the screwdriver or chisel along with the pliers to prize the material away from the springs.
You should now have your mattress deconstructed down to the textile mattress covers, the foam, cotton or wool padding and the spring skeleton. So what’s next?
B. Recycling Fabric and Foam Padding
You have cut away all the fabric and comfort layers of your mattress. Mattress recycling is not easy even for a professional, but what next if you are recycling a mattress at home? You have the top and bottom fabric layers rolled up and ready for recycling. These materials can be used as loft insulation in your home or for your relatives and friends. It may also be of use to make beds for your pets.
Recycling plants may also take them. Check up for your nearest recycling company and ask them if they can use your materials. Be specific: rather than just foam, state the type of foam if possible. Natural or synthetic latex, polyurethane or memory foam.
C. Recycling the Metal Springs and Spring Framework
The metal springs are also recyclable. The most obvious recycling method for the springs and framework is to sell them to a scrap merchant. You can get good money for mattress steel springs. Some firms may also buy them for reuse. However, not all modern mattresses contain springs.
D. Recycling Foam Mattresses
Foam mattresses are becoming increasingly more popular and in many parts of the world, they are more popular than innerspring mattresses. While this might make their deconstruction for recycling easier, you don’t have the bonus of making money from the scrap metal of the springs.
All types of foam can be reused for one purpose or another. You can easily cut foam mattresses into strips of foam as partial insulation for your loft or attic. The foam can be used as a safe play surface for your children, as a bed for your pets or insulation anywhere in your home.
Foam Toxicity Hazard: Do not burn mattress foams. Certain types of foam can release toxic fumes or smoke. Burning urethane/polyurethane foams releases carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide as combustion products. Hydrogen cyanide is particularly toxic. While the polyurethane foam in normal use is perfectly safe, it can be extremely hazardous if you burn it in your home fire or in a yard bonfire.
How Are Mattress Materials Recycled?
Here are the potential recycling options for a mattress. In each case, the mattress material will be thoroughly washed and cleaned. It may be used as it comes or be chipped or shredded.
- Cotton and Wool Fabric and Flock: These can be respun as yarn and converted to textiles. They can also be converted to padding for a number of uses.
- Foams of All Types: Cleaned, shredded, and recycled for uses such as for backing carpets or insulation.
- Fabrics Such as Mattress Tops/Covers: These can be cleaned and recycled for use in vehicle interiors or matting.
- Springs: Modern springs are generally made using high quality steel. They can be melted down, and the metal used for many different purposes.
- Wood: Mattresses do not generally contain wood. However, wood from a box spring base can be shredded or chipped for chipboard/particle board or used for fuel.
Recycling a Mattress at Home: Conclusion
Mattress recycling benefits everybody. By recycling a mattress at home, you are able to dispose of your mattress in a way that helps others. It helps save money, and places less of a burden on the environment if mattress disposal materials are put to good use. Landfill is more stable without the hollow spring mattress ultimately giving way and leading to subsidence.
Finally, if recycling a mattress at home is not possible for you to do, then you can use a mattress recycling service. There many mattress recycling companies available throughout many countries in the world. They will take care of the recycling for you – though not generally for free!
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