Helping With Responsible Mattress Disposal in the UK

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Why do mattresses need to be disposed of responsibly?

With almost 7m mattresses thrown away every year in the UK and an estimated 75% of these failing to find their way into the recycling process, it’s never been more important to ensure you dispose of your mattress responsibly when it reaches the end of its natural life.

Given their bulky nature, mattresses have long caused problems for consumers when it comes to disposal. However, there are a number of ways you can dispose of your mattress responsibly. In addition to the services provided by local authorities, who still handle the bulk of mattress recycling across the UK, consumers can also turn to private collection services. Fortunately, many mattress retailers also offer to take away your old mattress – so try to find one who does this and also ask what they do with them; make sure you buy from a retailer who recycles the mattresses they take back.

Another important point is that you can prolong the life of your mattress by caring for it properly. Find out how here.

In the past, fly tipping (the illegal deposit of waste onto land that does not have a licence to accept it) was often evident with unwanted, old mattresses sometimes dumped in lay-bys, fields and on waste ground. Not only does this cause a local nuisance and make the area look ugly, mattresses contain both organic and synthetic materials with the latter potentially taking several decades to break down. What’s more the chemicals in mattresses, including dyes and bleaches, can cause pollution to the ground and may be poisonous to animals and plants.

Given that mattresses are largely non-biodegradable, they will remain where they have been abandoned until someone transports them to a household waste recycling centre (HWRC) to be disposed of properly. Another major environmental consequence of this type of activity is that there is little likelihood of any mattress components subsequently being recycled.

With the cost of clearing up this type of waste estimated to cost councils millions of pounds every year, fly-tipping is a serious criminal offence for which you can be prosecuted. Be warned of the danger of people in white vans who offer to collect your mattress for free or at a bargain price, but are actually rogue traders who may fly-tip it at a convenient spot!

With most local authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland offering a collection and disposal service for bulky waste items, together with the services of private collection companies and some retailers offering take-back options, there are responsible ways for getting rid of your unwanted mattress. Increasingly, councils are seeking sustainable options for mattress disposal at their HWRCs, with growing numbers now being diverted from landfill and many components being recycled.

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