As you may already be aware, there is a mattress surcharge within skip hire and junk removal. I'm here to tell you exactly why!
Modern mattresses are made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum product. When this breaks down it releases Volatile Organic Compounds into the air.
They also take up on average 23 cubic feet of space when put in a landfill – and roughly 300 arrive at a local landfill every day. End to end, that's almost half a mile of mattresses!
At this point you may think job done… but not so fast. Landfill operators drive dozer-type machines, compacting waste tightly before it's covered. The problem mattresses now cause is twofold – first of all they don't compact well, but even worse the springs pop out and can get tangled in the equipment, breaking it and putting the operator at risk.
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” doesn't really apply to mattresses – It's hard to reduce the amount of mattresses we use (coupling up could always help…anyone?), most people have no interest in buying a used mattress, so we're left with recycling.
To separate the components of the average mattress it must be “filleted” by hand with a box cutter, which takes considerable strength and time per mattress, or they can be shredded which requires multi-million pound equipment.Even then, as the quality of the fabrics is not great, the only market for recycled materials is steel from the springs, which means the value of the recycled material does not cover the cost of mattress recycling. It does, however, impact the environment much less than landfilling.
So please, before you hide your mattress in the bottom of a skip, consider the above and maybe give your local council a ring; many charities offer disposal of good quality mattresses; IKEA and other mattress retailers offer free disposal of your old mattress... the options are there!