The Problem

U.S. residents, businesses, universities, and others discard over 50,000 mattresses each day—that’s up to 20 million annually. Much of this bulky waste ends up in landfills or illegally dumped on curbsides, imposing significant management costs on local governments and taxpayers. Less than five percent of mattresses are recycled each year, despite the fact that up to 90 percent of mattress components can be recycled and used to make steel, carpet padding, animal bedding, and mulch.

A Solution

Mattress extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs require manufacturers to provide consumers with a convenient way to responsibly get rid of mattresses. With producer funding, EPR offers an effective, sustainable financing system that increases the collection and recycling of discarded mattresses, reduces government and overall costs, and lessens environmental impacts.

Connecticut, under the leadership of PSI’s National Mattress Stewardship Initiative, passed the first U.S. mattress EPR law in 2013. In the first year of the program, Connecticut:

  • recycled 63.5 percent of the state’s discarded mattresses, an increase from only 8.7 percent recycled in the prior year;
  • recycled 2800 tons of steel, foam, and other materials;
  • saved 1.7 million cubic feet of landfill space; and
  • saved greenhouse gas emissions comparable to annual emissions from 875 passenger vehicles.

California and Rhode Island have also passed EPR laws for mattresses. The Mattress Recycling Council, a non-profit organization formed by the industry to operate recycling programs in states with laws, started running programs in these two states in early 2016. Other states—including Maine —continue to introduce mattress EPR bills.


PSI’s Role in Delivering Solutions

Provides Technical Assistance

PSI provides technical support in implementing, monitoring, and promoting collection and recycling programs for mattresses. PSI holds informative webinars, including “Carpet and Mattress Stewardship in Rural Areas,” which explored opportunities to increase recycling and build capacity for carpet and mattress stewardship. PSI members and partners receive access to additional information.

Advocates for EPR legislation

PSI monitors, informs, offers expert testimony for, and advocates for product stewardship legislation for mattresses. Through our National Mattress Stewardship Initiative, PSI led the movement for states seeking an EPR solution, and developed model EPR legislation with input from state and local governments. Just two years after PSI worked with states to introduce the first mattress stewardship bill in the U.S., three states — Connecticut, Rhode Island, and California — passed laws, all of which PSI testified in support. PSI has developed model EPR legislation with input from state and local governments and worked with the City of Hartford’s mayor to introduce a Mattress Producer Responsibility Resolution to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which was adopted in June 2012.

Brings Stakeholders Together

PSI helps state and local governments, producers, recyclers, and other stakeholders together develop economically and environmentally sustainable solutions for managing used mattresses. PSI organized and led the first National Mattress Stewardship Meeting, engaging over 100 stakeholders to explore key issues. PSI also holds meetings to help states build coalitions in support of mattress stewardship legislation.

Conducts Research and Creates Online Resources

For over seven years, PSI has researched and compiled data on mattress production, composition, disposal, recycling, and environmental impacts. Using this information, we provide tools and resources for governments, organizations, and other stakeholders to start or promote mattress stewardship programs, including a Mattress Stewardship Briefing Document and an Advancing Mattress Stewardship: A How-To Guide, which can be used by governments and others across the country to increase mattress recycling.

We provide exclusive mattress-specific resources for PSI Members and Partners – login  or  learn more.

For more information, please contact Suna Bayrakal at (617) 671-0616.

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