Did you know? Close to 4.5 million mattresses and 4.5 million box springs are destined for the landfill or incinerator each and every year in the United States, amounting to over 250 million pounds.[1]

Mattresses, the very things that we sleep on every night, are one of the most common “bulk” items to be thrown out in the United States. They are also one of the most difficult items to recycle. This is because options to recycle them are extremely limited. However, a dedicated recycling facility can recycle up to 90 percent of a mattress.[2]

Typically containing about 9 pounds of cotton and 25 pounds of steel, a mattress is basically made out of all types of recyclable materials, including metal (mostly steel), wood, cotton batting, paper, fiberfill, urethane foam, and other miscellaneous textiles.[3]

In FY2012, LIU Post generated 11,080 pounds of mattresses. Our waste hauler Jamaica Ash though was able to recycle about 30% of that total. To do this, they remove the metal from each individual mattress at their Materials Recovery Facility and then sell it as scrap metal. This resulted in an additional 3,324 pounds of metal being diverted from landfill in FY2012.

Going forward, LIU Post is searching for ways to recycle a larger portion of their mattresses particularly because mattresses take up a lot of landfill space. For the time being though, we are happy that at least a portion of our mattresses is getting recycled.

Hopefully as new businesses emerge in this fairly young industry, an opportunity will present itself making it a possibility for us to recycle every part of our mattresses.

For now though, we must sleep on it.

[1] According to Nationwide Mattress Recycling

[2] From the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

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