Furniture Recycling Group unveils world's first automated mattress recycling machine

Written by: The Furniture Recycling Group | Published:
The Furniture Recycling Group's automated pocket spring recycling machine

The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR Group), a Blackburn-based soft furnishing recycling company specialising in bed and mattress recycling, has designed, developed and produced the world’s first automated pocket spring recycling machine, created to streamline the mattress recycling process significantly and reduce the number of mattresses sent to landfill each year.

According to the National Beds Federation's End of Life Mattress Report published this year, an estimated 63,339,000 mattresses are currently in use in the UK (household and commercial), with 167,000 tonnes of mattresses, reported WRAP's Product Opportunity Report 2013 - Mattresses, sent to landfill each year in the UK. Approximately 5.9 million end of life mattresses were disposed of in 2014, with only 16% being recycled and the majority (73%) sent to landfill, the remaining 11% were incinerated (NBF End of Life Mattress Report 2016), creating an environmental headache for local authorities. Despite the government increasing the cost of sending waste to landfill as a deterrent, this form of disposal remains a cheaper option than recycling.

Pocket spring based mattresses present specific challenges to recyclers, consisting of between 1,000 and 10,000 single springs each wrapped inside a textile-based polypropylene pocket. Designed internally by the company’s own engineers, the machinery is already being used to dismantle and separate the components for pocket springs within mattresses, reducing the process from taking over half a day per full pocket spring to just 2.5 minutes.

Traditionally, the only way of recycling pocket springs was to manually separate each spring from the pocket with a knife, which is time-intensive and commercially unviable. Rather than being recycled, the pockets would previously either be sent to the UK’s only scrap dealer that accepts pocket springs, at a large cost, where they are mixed into other scrap, or, due to the excessive cost of scrapping the springs, sent to landfill.

The machine has been patented and the team is already working on other devices that can help to automate the mattress recycling process and reduce the manual labour requirement.

With TFR Group’s new unique, automated pocket spring recycling machine, within just 2.5 minutes the components are automatically separated into steel and polypropylene waste streams, leaving recyclable components that have a value and can be sold on, re-used as scrap or recycled.

Nick Oettinger, founder and managing director of TFR Group, said: “As far as we know, we are the first company in the world to design and create a machine to automate pocket spring recycling. Pocket springs are the most difficult components of mattresses to dismantle and recycle and there can be between 1,000 and 10,000 springs on each mattress so it was our priority to develop this piece of machinery. We are working with manufacturing partners to produce more versions of the machine that can be sold all over the world, speeding up pocket spring recycling for organisations in the UK and beyond, and ensuring we keep the materials away from landfill.

“There is currently very little in the way of automation within the mattress recycling industry with the majority of tasks being carried out manually, which can often be time consuming, a drain on labour costs and require rigorous training. This is the first in a series of machines that will speed up mattress recycling and we also have designs for additional machinery to help bring automation to the mattress recycling process. Our engineering team is working hard to bring these designs to prototype stage, ready to launch and implement at our own plant, with the aim of producing and selling them in the near future.”

The polypropylene is one of 19 different textile fibres TFR Group segregates from a mattress, which can be used to produce end products, such as mattress pads, automotive felt and carpet underlay.

The new automated pocket spring recycling machine has received strong interest from countries outside of the UK, including the Netherlands and the United States. It comes as a boost to the business, which began recycling mattresses in 2010 and now has operations in Lancashire and Derbyshire, along with licensed operations in North Wales, Northern Ireland and Chester.

The pocket spring recycling machine is the result of 18 months’ research and development, and TFR Group is expected to invest significantly in research and development over the next three years to design and launch additional machines to automate the mattress recycling process.

For more information on recycling mattresses, visit http://www.tfrgroup.co.uk/


This material is protected by MA Business Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Comments
Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.