Companies should take responsibility for recycling their own mattresses

Written by: Nick Oettinger | Published:

The rising issue of irresponsible recycling has been hitting landlords, retailers and housing associations where it hurts in recent weeks, with ill-equipped recycling companies abandoning mountains of mattresses and other waste materials and failing to adhere to the proper processes, says Nick Oettinger, managing director at The Furniture Recycling Group (TFRG), who offers a better alternative when it comes to disposing of used mattresses.

UK landlords and businesses are being burdened with unsightly waste accumulations and the responsibility and cost of clearing them up. Many business owners are currently unaware that they are still liable to pay for the clean-up operation if the companies they have already paid to recycle their waste fail to hold up their end of the bargain.

There are approximately 63,339,000 mattresses in use in the UK at any given time, and only around 16% of them are recycled, with the rest being incinerated, sent to landfill or dumped on vacant properties. With figures like this, it is clear that more needs to be done to reduce the amount of waste being dumped and to increase the rate of recycling.

The Furniture Recycling Group (TFRG) has provided mattress recycling services for hotels, local authorities, waste management companies and retailers such as John Lewis. Through these efforts, TFRG has helped significantly reduce the number of end of life mattresses being sent to landfill, and has successfully recycled over one million mattresses since the firm was launched in 2012.

Now, to help combat the growing issue of irresponsible mattress recycling, TFRG is speaking out about the importance of conducting proper research and audit trails into disposal routes for all mattress disposal companies; something TFRG encourages all its customers to do.

Having been contacted by several landlords who have fallen victim to failed recycling schemes, we are encouraging organisations to keep a close eye on recycling processes and get more involved where possible. This way we can prevent more of these incidents from happening.

I’m sad to say that there has been a rise in the number of recycling companies failing to disposes of mattresses responsibly; instead abandoning them in large piles on rented land.

However, these situations are rarely intentional. Most recycling companies enter the industry with all good intentions, but with mattress recycling being so expensive, time intensive and difficult, many find it impossible to maintain the necessary level of operation to cope with the scale of the task at hand.

In order to fulfil their duty of care for waste compliance, we recommend that any organisations enlisting the services of a mattress recycling company should do the following:

  • Conduct thorough research into the company itself. Ask to see the appropriate certification, licenses and audit trail documentation from key industry bodies, and look for testimonials from current or previous customers to get a measure for their reputation before you commit to a contract.
  • Make regular visits to the recycling site, at least once every three months, to ensure the operation is being run to the proper standards and everything looks in order. TFRG has an open-door policy allowing clients to visit the site and see the work being done, setting a higher standard for recycling company policies in the UK.
  • Run your own audits to evaluate where your mattresses are being dismantled and what happens to the constituent parts after dismantling. If you are not fully satisfied with the processes, don’t commit to the service.

Here at The Furniture Recycling Group, we take the recycling of mattresses very seriously indeed, so we’re keen to help the industry find a responsible way in which to dispose of old mattresses. Becoming your own recycling watchdog can help prevent complications further down the line.

Here at TFRG we recently launched our patented automated mattress recycling machine which dismantles and separates the components in pocket springs within mattresses, reducing the process from taking over half a day per full pocket spring to just 2.5 minutes. The traditionally time-consuming process of breaking down mattresses is one of the main reasons why many recycling companies become overwhelmed by the task at hand, and resort to dumping mattresses instead.

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