Green Retail: Mattress Online

In the next part of our sustainable series, we’re going to take a deeper look at e-commerce bed and mattress retailer Mattress Online and what it’s doing in terms of sustainability.

The topic of sustainability continues to be of great importance – for individuals, businesses, and the world. Mattress Online recognises this and we’ll explore its green credentials in this instalment of our sustainability series.

Mattress Online

Rotherham-based retailer Mattress Online has made sustainability a centre point for its business since 2015, introducing a mattress collection and recycling initiative and pledging to recycle 40% of all mattresses by 2025.

The company works in partnership with mattress recycling organisations across the UK, who process each mattress component at dedicated recycling plants. In the first instance, each mattress component is separated from the others – such as the steel from the mattress springs, or the comfort fillings such as wool and cotton. These are then re-distributed across many different industries. Each component of the mattress can be used in a variety of ways. Some can be made into insulation for homes, and other materials will be used in cars and so much more.

By offering this non-profit optional service to orders, a third of customers now make the environmentally conscious choice to have their mattress recycled by Mattress Online when their new mattress is delivered – meaning that this collaboration has saved more than 150,000 mattresses going to landfill.

Over the past five years, Mattress Online has seen a 344% increase in recycling and between May 2022 and April 2023 alone, 14,500 mattresses were recycled with their recycling rate increasing from 23% to now accounting for almost 25% of all orders.

CEO Steve Adams consistently reaffirms the company’s dedication to being a positive influence within the mattress industry. He said: “One of our key corporate goals as part of a developing ESG strategy is to continually improve and promote our not-for-profit recycling service.” But he emphasises, “the rest of the industry has to be equally committed.”

The UK currently throws away seven million mattresses each year and it is estimated that only 19% of all mattresses are recycled. Mattress Online recognises that it’s not enough to engage in a sustainability initiative in silo and last year Steve issued a call to the rest of the industry to make it easier for customers to recycle.

To help drive this environmental change in the industry, Steve joined the Sustainability panel of the National Bed Federation. The panel is working with The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to make an extended producer responsibility (EPR) statutory across the industry. Whilst working with government, Steve’s also contributed to the framework of a future ‘Mattress Extended Producer Responsibility’ policy alongside Zero Waste Scotland. He was also involved in a meeting with DEFRA regarding waste policy in July 2022.

Steve believes sustainability is a central part of his work, both personally, and as CEO of Mattress Online, he said: “We’re not just recycling mattresses here at Mattress Online. We’re always looking for opportunities and finding other ways we can improve our eco-conscious behaviour.

“Last year we introduced a new ethically sourced uniform for all our staff across retail, operations, and logistics – with many of our other teams following suit and choosing to wear the polo shirts for work. We also compile lists of the best eco-friendly mattresses we stock to show our customers what is available to them, along with helpful ‘eco-friendly scores’.”

Additionally, in terms of products:

  • 22% of mattresses are chemical-free
  • 29% of mattresses are eco-friendly.
  • 20% of mattresses include recycled materials.
  • 18% of mattresses are vegan-friendly.
  • The company’s plastic polythene mattress bags are made from 100% recycled content and are 100% recyclable.

Mattress Online is also investigating the potential use of reusable hessian packaging (bags) as an alternative to plastic and constantly re-evaluating the balance between transport protection and sustainability. One significant change that has taken place internally also saves packaging costs and waste considerably – the expansion of Mattress Online’s own fleet of vehicles as well as growth within their logistics team. Using the in-house team for more local deliveries requires only one layer of packaging material for each unit – and so far this year, almost 8,000 mattresses have been delivered.

As part of their company values, Mattress Online push for improved sustainability at every level. This is something the business has been striving to perfect for years, and will continue to aspire towards in the future, along with improvements for staff, reducing paper use in stores with QR codes, and a continual championing of its cycle-to-work scheme.

The company’s efforts have been recognised more widely and in 2022, Mattress Online won the Good Retail Sustainability Award. Managing Director of Modern Retail, Rob Gamage, said: “Mattress Online thoroughly impressed us with its dedicated effort to run a more sustainable business. It’s set up a truly end-to-end process that will continue to reduce the impact on the environment in the future.”

Steve said: “Sustainability is about so much more than what we do as individuals. Mattress Online aims to support the community and improve our ability to live on this planet. The issue is very close to our hearts and one that is deeply embedded in the culture of the business.”

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