U.K. Prison Experiments With Mattress Recycling

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Last week, The Guardian reported that the U.K. government is stepping up its recycling efforts and coming up with innovative ideas for discarded prison mattresses. Prisons throughout England and Wales throw out 50,000 mattresses each year and order 60,000 new mattresses due to prison population growth, costing taxpayers 2 million pounds, or 2.8 million U.S. dollars.

Discarded mattresses take up to 23 cubic feet of space in landfills. Photo: Flickr/hateme20

Discarded mattresses take up to 23 cubic feet of space in landfills. Photo: Flickr/hateme20

County jails will be signing contracts with companies to convert these mattresses into new products. The goal is to reduce the wasted mattresses from 50,000 to zero.

Two companies are conducting trials to convert stained and lumpy mattresses into carpet underlay, roof tiles and fence panels.

The new idea is a part of the Whitehall plan to recycle waste and save taxpayer cash. The mattress recycling proposal is highlighted in a report surveying Whitehall’s innovation, which says that Whitehall has allotted 5.5 billion pounds, or 7.8 billion U.S. dollars, for experimentation.

Discarded mattresses are a huge problem in landfills—literally. A single mattress can take up to 23 cubic feet of space, driving U.S. legislation for mattress recycling such as holding manufacturers to higher environmental standards.

Some retailers and charities still sell and donate used mattresses to lower income families. Phoenix-based Sleep America has been very supportive of alternative methods of disposing of mattresses.

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