Recycling Mystery: Mattresses

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Mattresses are one of those common household items that can be a huge headache when recycling. Many thrift and secondhand stores don’t want them, and it can be tough to track down a recycling program that accepts them.

That said, sending your used mattress to the landfill can come with a hefty impact on the planet. An estimated 20 million mattresses are disposed of in the U.S. every year. Amazingly, a double mattress can take up as much as 60 cubic feet in a landfill (you can calculate the space your mattress will fill here) — making it that much more important to recycle your old one.

Despite the difficulties, it can be done! Read on for the lowdown on reusing and recycling your old mattress to help keep landfills empty.

Choose To Reuse

If your mattress is still in very good condition, it may be easiest to look for a new owner within your own social circles. Ask friends and family members if they know anyone who needs a mattress and offer up yours for free, or check with churches, homeless shelters, and community centers in your neighborhood. Perhaps a child going off to college could use it, as well.

If that doesn’t pan out, you may also be able to give your mattress away through Freecycle or sell it on sites like Craigslist.


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Still no luck? While many thrift stores don’t accept used mattresses for sanitary reasons, there are some options out there. Most Salvation Army stores accept used mattresses, and some will even pick up your mattress to save you the trouble of lugging it to your nearest branch.

Some St. Vincent de Paul locations also accept used mattresses for reuse or recycling, but this may vary from region to region. So, be sure to call ahead first to avoid wasting a trip.

Opt for Recycling

If your mattress isn’t in good condition, recycling is likely your best bet. The wood, foam, cotton, and metal springs that make up most mattresses are all recyclable but finding the right recycler can be a challenge.

Some mattress stores will pick up your used mattress when dropping off a new one, but the fate of these mattresses is often a local landfill. Before opting for store pickup, ask a salesperson how the store disposes of used mattresses. Insist on recycling or take your business elsewhere — you have the power of the dollar to help the planet whenever you make a purchase.

If the store does not provide recycling, the manufacturer of your old mattress may offer a take-back recycling program. You should be able to find out through a quick call or web search, but if you strike out there, too, check for local recycling options by using Earth911 Recycling Search.

City-sponsored mattress recycling programs are also on the rise nationwide, and an increasing number of private specialty recyclers may also mean more options near you. So be sure to check with your local recycling program to see if they can provide guidance.

Featured image: Adobe Stock

Editor’s note: This article was updated in August 2018.

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Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.
Mary Mazzoni

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