Ask Eartha: The right way to handle mattress disposal (column)
November 9, 2017
What am I supposed to do with my old mattress? I see a lot of people leaving them by dumpsters or on the curb, but they stay there forever. That can't be the answer. Please help!
What a great question, particularly right now when there are so many people moving just in time for winter. You're right, the curb is definitely not the answer for mattress disposal or recycling. For one, your private trash hauler has rules and regulations as to what he can and cannot pick up, as well as logistical issues with large and hard- to-move items like mattresses. In addition, materials left on the curb that aren't picked up become a public eyesore and a safety issue — for both people and wildlife. Waste haulers may provide additional (read more expensive) services for hauling hard-to- move materials, but don't expect them to do it on their regular route. You need to plan ahead and call your hauler to ensure they will pick up your items and for what cost.
Mattresses can be disposed of at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park in Keystone, but they are landfilled and there's a fee. Once in the landfill, they take up valuable airspace. Airspace is the volume of space at a landfill that is permitted by state regulations for the disposal of municipal solid waste. We only have so much airspace allotted for our landfill, so filling it with bulky, toxic and hard-to- compact items like mattresses doesn't do us any good. Plus, we can't reuse anything that's landfilled!
Unfortunately, Summit County doesn't currently have a mattress recycling program. However, the Zero Waste Task Force is working on funding opportunities to implement additional recycling programs in the future. In fact, there is a public forum at the Frisco Community Center next Friday, Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m. where the Summit Daily and High Country Conservation Center are asking for your opinion on what recycling programs you want to see here in Summit County. Mattress recycling could be one of them.
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Just because you can't recycle here in Summit doesn't mean you can't recycle your mattress at all. Spring Back Colorado is a Denver-based program that recycles over 4,000 mattresses per month. For a $20 per item fee, you can drop off your mattress and box spring at Spring Back Colorado where they will break down over 90 percent of the mattress into its components (steel, foam, ticking, cotton and wood) and either recycle or repurpose them. While you're there, pick up a new dog and cat bed for Fido and Fifi — made right there at the factory from 100 percent recycled latex foam from your old mattress. It's one of the many products your old mattress can become in the afterlife.
The other cool thing about Spring Back Colorado is its commitment to employing the disenfranchised and those with barriers to employment. They give employees an opportunity to re-establish themselves in the workplace and strengthen their path to self-sufficiency. Talk about a business with a commitment to the triple bottom line.
If you work for a property management company, resort, or governmental agency, Spring Back Colorado will help you establish local mattress collection sites where you can collect mattresses and ensure they're being recycled. This program is helping businesses and organizations in Adams County, Vail, Aspen, Boulder, Golden and Fort Collins. We can bring mattress recycling to Summit County as well — we just need to hear from you. Join us at the Frisco Community Center for the Recycling Forum on Friday, Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m. and share your opinions about the future of recycling in Summit. See you there.
Do you have a question about sustainability?
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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