If your local mattress store has a mattress-recycling program, your best bet will likely be to take advantage of it. These organized programs are the easiest and most reliable way to ensure that your old bed doesn’t end up on the side of the road.

It’s the sum of its parts.

If you’re out of luck in the let-us-take-it-off-your-hands department, you’ll want to break it down – literally. “Mattress” is not a surface found in nature, so recycling most beds involves disassembling a potentially intricate assembly. Most mattresses are very difficult to recycle as-is. Once broken down, however, recycling the individual materials can be easier and more lucrative than trying to find an all-in-one disposal solution.

Parts of a Mattress Used For Mattress Recycling

Most traditional mattresses are mostly made up of fabric with buttons, stuffing, a wood frame, and steel springs. Fortunately, all of these materials can suitably be reused or recycled.

Steel in particular can be easily recycled as a raw material, and some recycling centers will pay a return for it. The cost of recycling has drastically decreased over the years, and there is a ready market for recycled steel. Depending on the size, a mattress can have anywhere from 300 to 600 steel coils. It would thus be a shame not to recycle your mattress, especially if it’s a high-quality king or queen, as a higher quality mattress means more steel coils.

Foam and cotton stuffing may be easier to repurpose than to recycle. Creative reuse organizations can find valuable applications for these otherwise-useless substances. They can be recycled for reupholstering furniture, stuffing pillows, and padding carpets.

You can also repurpose the wood frame of a mattress, though this might be the most difficult part. When disassembled, the wood can be used in carpentry or as firewood (don’t your kids need a tree house?). Even better, you could shred the wood frame and use it in your lawn as mulch.

Box springs, when recycled in a recycling facility, are fed into a special machine where the soft materials are separated from the frame. This easily separates the springs from the other components. The foam and cotton stuffing are grouped together and shredded for later use while the springs are pulled away with magnets.

Don’t forget the bells and whistles!

If you’ve gotten rid of your springs, frame, and stuffing, you’re doing a really good job. But throwing away the odds and ends when you’ve come so close to being a more conscious consumer than anyone you’ve ever met would just be an unnecessary defeat. The buttons and fabrics from old mattresses can be reused or recycled as well. They just need to be cleaned, and voila! These fabrics can be used in industry to make car seats, chairs and even curtains.

If you’re taking the time to dispose of your mattress responsibly, we commend you. Very few people do, and it’s a step toward sustainability that any of us can make.

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