The NZ Mattress Project

So, what’s the problem?

It is estimated nearly 300,000 mattresses and bases are sent to landfill every year in New Zealand. That’s the equivalent of twenty-five 20-foot shipping containers filled with these units every single day.

If those mattresses and bases were stacked one on top of the other, they would reach the edge of space.

Mattresses are bulky and aren’t easily compactable, causing issues for landfill operators. Most of all sending mattresses to landfill is simply a waste of resources.

Overseas mattress recycling programmes clearly demonstrate over 90% of the component materials can be extracted and recycled, while creating jobs and incomes for communities.

The Project

The Rebound project was initiated by 3R Group Ltd following discussions with mattress manufacturers and observations of international developments in mattress stewardship and recycling.

Based on 3R’s experience designing and delivering stewardship and waste-to-resource programmes, they believe there can be a better environmental outcome for mattress materials.

In February 2015, 3R invited industry stakeholders to join a collaborative cross-sector project team. The team would take a leadership role in the development of a stewardship programme for discarded mattresses.

Funding for the project was provided initially by Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund, along with contributions from the project participants.

Milestones

Milestone 1: Establish project team.

Milestone 2: Investigation into current situation for disposal of mattresses in New Zealand and internationally.

Milestone 3: Mattress collection, dismantling and recycling trial including testing for brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and confirming potential markets for recovered materials.

Milestone 4: Identify stewardship programme design options and an industry preferred approach.

Milestone 5: Develop a business plan and financial model for an ongoing programme.

Outcomes

International recycling programmes and our recycling trials show that we could potentially recycle approximately 90% of mattress materials.

With an estimated 300,000 units discarded annually, this would equate to around 7 million kilograms of material being diverted from landfill.

Facts from our recycling trial:

  • On average, a discarded mattress or base weighs around 27 kilograms
  • It takes an average of 23 minutes for one person to manually dismantle a mattress, or 15 minutes for two people

The average mattress contains the following materials:

  • Steel springs – 100% recyclable
  • Polyurethane foam – can be recycled into
    foam carpet underlay
  • Coir – a natural product from coconut fibre
    with various reuse options
  • Wood – 100% reuseable or recyclable
  • Textiles – currently non-recyclable

Are you interested in access to mattress materials for recycling, repurposing or reuse?

Register your interest

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