The Do’s And Don’ts of Mattress Recycling In California

Do you have an old mattress that’s just been sitting in your basement collecting dust and wasting valuable space? Whether you’ve had it for a while or you just replaced your old one with a new and improved one, don’t just toss it in the trash, recycle it. Different states have different laws when it comes to mattress recycling, but today, we’re going to focus on the good ol’ state of California. There are certain laws that Californian’s have to follow when it comes to disposing of their old mattresses. More than 50,000 mattresses end up in landfills each day, but why clog them up with something that you can recycle for reuse? If you need to dispose of an old bed, here’s how you can do it.


#1. Mattress Recycling In California

Each year in California, there are millions of mattresses and box springs that are ready to be disposed of. Since mattresses do tend to be rather large, it’s hard to affordably recycle them, leading to illegal dumping costs throughout the state to certain local jurisdictions. Most people don’t realize that these items are actually highly recyclable-80-90% of each mattress by weight. The steel and polyurethane that most mattresses contain actually have a rather positive market value.

— How Can This Be Fixed?

Not everybody is going to be on board with recycling their used beds. They would much rather take them to the dump with their weekly load. For those who are looking for a solution to the problem, there has been a special act instilled called the California Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act. This act is aiming to reduce the illegal dumping of used beds, increase the recycling amount, and reduce public agency costs for the end-of-use management. It has been implemented since December 30, 2015.


#2. Mattress Recycling Council (MRC)

The Mattress Recycling Council is a non-profit organization, created by the International Sleep Products Association, that dedicates themselves to the development and implementation of of mattress recycling for states that have specific laws for such activities. They currently have mattress recycling programs in Connecticut and Rhode Island as well as California. There are tons of mattress recycling centers, so if you’re looking for one near you, check here.


#3. How To Recycle Your Old Mattress

When it’s time to recycle your old mattress, look for the nearest participating recyclers in your area. Residents can drop their old bed at no-cost to for a reimbursement of $3 per mattress with a limit of five units per person per day. If you bought a new mattress and need to get rid of the old one, the law requires retailers that are delivering the new one to give the consumer the chance to have the old one picked up during delivery at no extra cost. However, if you bought your mattress from an online company, they are not subject to this law and retailers have the right to not take back a used mattress that may be a health or safety risk.


— A Mattress Can Be Deemed Unacceptable

Unfortunately, even though you paid that $11 fee when you purchased the bed, it does not mean that it can be recycled when you are done with it. A mattress or other bedding item can be deemed unacceptable if it is contaminated and/or poses a risk to new products, personnel, or equipment. The following are examples of unacceptable items:

  • Severely damaged, frozen, stained, soiled, twisted, or wet mattresses, box springs, and foundations.
  • If it’s infested with bed bugs
  • Car beds
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Any children’s item such as carriages, dressing tables, strollers, lounge pads, crib bumpers and baskets.
  • Water beds or camping air-mattresses
  • Fold-out sofa beds
  • Futons & furniture
  • If for whatever reason your mattress is considered to be unacceptable, you can contact your city or town to find out which disposal options are available to you.


#4. Benefits Of Recycling

One of the biggest benefits of recycling your old bed is that 90% of it can be used to make a new product. These are a few examples of how recycling can help:

  • Creates more recycling jobs for those who may have issues finding employment
  • Reduces the reliance on landfills and incinerators by removing mattresses from the stream of waste
  • Reduces the amount of illegally dumped beds
  • Conserves resources by making used foam, steel, and other materials into brand new products.

So far, in the three states that support it, 1,000,000 mattresses have been recycled and used as another product.

— How Is It Done?

When a mattress is recycled, there is a certain way that they do it. They first cut open the bed and the layers are separated and then separated by type. Foams, fibers, and other soft commodities are compressed and metal & box springs are extracted and sent to scrap recyclers. The metal is then sold to steel mills and foundries and the wood from the box springs are recycled and used as a fuel source.

The foam padding is turned into carpet underlayment or bed padding for animals, cotton is used in industrial oil filters and other textile applications, steel springs are recycled as metal scrap and can be used to make new appliances and building materials, and wooden frames are shredded for landscaping mulch or burned as an alternative fuel.



If you live in the state of California, Rhode Island, or Connecticut, there are some options you have when it comes to recycling your old bed. If you aren’t sure where to drop off your used mattress, check the bye bye mattress website. This will give you all of the recycling centers and drop off’s that participate with the law put into place. Remember, the more you recycle, the more jobs that are put out there and the more products that are made from reusing the items. It may not seem like a huge deal to some, but to others, it means world.