Often difficult to recycle, mattresses are a constant problem in municipal landfills. Hundreds are thrown out on a daily basis and can take up as much as 23 cubic feet of landfill space each.
As mattresses have become more and more of a disposal issue, improved recycling and reuse options are coming into play. Where they are recycled, mattresses are often deconstructed: the foam, fiber, steel and wood from beds separated, bailed and recycled separately into new goods, such as other mattresses and carpet padding. Generally, reusing the unit as a whole is not a popular choice for safety reasons. But don’t shudder just yet at the idea of mattress reuse – there are more options out there than you think.
Frank Willems is a Dutch designer who came up with the idea to repurpose old mattresses after visiting a local landfill.
In an email to Coolhunting.com, Willems explained: “At a visit to a waste processing facility I learned almost all types of waste appeared to have a destination, except mattresses. They cause trouble because they get stuck between the shredders … For this reason, I started to work with old mattresses.”
Bending and folding old mattresses “like giant pieces of bubblegum,” the pieces are bound together to form stools or ottomans, or to antique chair bases as cushions. A hygenic, water-resistant foam coating and soft paint finish off the pieces, creating the Madam Rubens collection.
According to Willems, “Madam Rubens […] started her life as a mattress, but was thrown away after years of loyal service.”
Do you have a mattress that you need to discard after years of service? Check out the Earth911 mattress recycling guide.