Image Credit: congerdesign
For many years it was recommended that you change your mattress every 10 years. However in recent years the Sleep Council and the mattress industry have started to suggest changing your mattress after only 7 or 8 years of use.
Well, they would say that wouldn’t they?
The Sleep Council, who describe themselves as “an impartial organisation that looks at how you can adopt healthier sleep habits and focuses on raising awareness of a good night’s sleep to health and wellbeing” are the consumer education arm of the National Bed Federation, which is the trade association for the UK's bed and mattress manufacturers.
Mattress manufacturers, naturally enough, want you to buy more mattresses.
So before you get rid of that mattress, the most environmentally friendly thing to do is ask yourself if you really need a new one. Yes, if the springs are sticking into your back or your bed is uncomfortable you absolutely do need to replace your mattress - good quality sleep is vitally important for your health and wellbeing.
But don’t feel you have to buy a new mattress just because an advertisement from a mattress retailer recommends it based on an arbitary date.
If your mattress is still usable you could give it to someone who could use it:-
If you want to donate your mattress to a charity, they generally require the fire safety label to be intact.
So what if your mattress is not in good enough condition to reuse? What is the most eco-friendly way to dispose of your old one?
The good news is that a mattress is 100% recyclable.
The bad news is that figures from the National Bed Federation for 2022 show that still only around 14% of mattresses are actually recycled in the UK. The rest are incinerated or sent to landfill.
If you are buying a mattress from a large retailer, they probably will offer to take your old mattress away, either for free or for a small charge.
Usually there will be a small charge for this service. At time of writing this averages around £30. You will need to book this at the time you order your mattress.
Other retailers may take away your mattress, but that doesn’t mean it will be recycled; it will probably go to landfill unless they specifically state that the mattress will be recycled.
If you just need to get rid of a mattress without buying a new one there are a number of commercial companies that will take a mattress away for a fee. Some of these are specialists in mattress disposal who will state whether they send mattresses for recycling.
You can ask your local council if they will collect your old mattress. You will normally be charged for this, you will probably have to leave the mattress outside your property and your mattress will probably go to landfill.
You can also take your mattress to your local household recycling centre; again it will probably go to landfill.
Mattress recycling is pretty tricky, as it consists of several categories of material, including textiles, metal and foam.
The mattress is taken apart, usually by hand in an extremely labour intensive procedure, hence the higher cost of sending your mattress for recycling. The springs have to be removed to be sent for metal recycling. The foam can be recycled to make carpet underlay.
This video explains the process required to recycle a mattress.
At present the textile material is difficult to recycle and will generally be used as a fuel in an energy-to-waste facility.
However an innovative new machine, the first of its type, is being developed by The Furniture Recycling Group which automates the removal of springs from old pocket spring mattresses.
This reduces the amount of time that it takes to dismantle a mattress by 70% which means that fewer mattresses will go to landfill.