NBF launches mattress disposal website for consumers

The National Bed Federation (NBF) has launched a new website, www.mattressdisposal.co.uk , aiming to signpost consumers to the options for mattress recycling in their local town or city.

The website has been developed in response to the results of a new survey undertaken by the NBF using Freedom of Information requests, which sought to establish how councils across the country deal with the estimated 6.4 million plus mattresses that are disposed of through their services every year.

Tom Williams, sustainability & circular economy lead for the NBF said: “Not only has our comprehensive research given a clearer picture of what’s happening to those unwanted mattresses across the UK handled by local authorities, it has also enabled us to create the first ever dedicated mattress disposal portal providing a free local search function alongside numerous other resources, to make it easier for people to dispose of their mattresses responsibly.”

Replies to the NBF survey were received by all 385 waste authorities across the UK and revealed significant variations.  Wales emerged as the front runner in terms of recycling rather than just sending mattresses to landfill or incineration, with all councils reporting to divert mattresses from landfill and with components sent for recycling in over 86% of council areas. Greater London was the only other area to achieve 100% diversion from landfill, with over 63% of councils sending mattress waste for recycling. Northern Ireland also performed well, with only 9% of councils transferring to landfill and over 63% sending for recycling.

In comparison, the number of councils using landfill remains highest in the East Midlands (over 43%), the North West (40%) and the East of England (over 34%). Incineration was most used in the South West with over 77% of councils generating energy from waste, followed by the East of England (over 44%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (over 43%). Recycling was used by as few as 11% of councils in parts of England.

Methods of disposal also differed within councils, depending on whether the mattress travelled via a household waste recycling centre or a bulky collection service. The cost of mattress collection similarly amounted to a postcode lottery, with prices ranging from ‘free of charge’ to up to £76.30 – with a higher fee not necessarily equating to a greener route to disposal.

With mattresses classed as a ‘difficult waste’ within the recycling industry, a number of councils have partnered with specialist bulky waste collection companies which are working to improve re-use/recycling processes, with the aim of creating viable and affordable solutions for the ever-increasing market.

Said Williams: “Despite growing pressure from consumers for more environmentally-friendly mattress disposal options, it is disappointing to see such disparity across the UK with many regions and nations still a long way from reaching the NBF’s target of 75% mattress diversion from landfill by 2028. However, it must be pointed out that there are often valid reasons, beyond the local authority’s control, why they are not able to achieve higher levels of sustainability. For example, due to prohibitive costs or the lack of specialist recycling facilities. The vital thing is they continue to strive towards finding ‘greener’ solutions and learn from those that have made progress.

“With increased financial pressure on local authorities, we believe that the Government needs to support plans for a nationwide programme to fund a consistent service, perhaps combined with some type of Extended Producer Responsibilities (EPR) scheme, that makes it easy for everyone to cost-effectively recycle their used mattresses.”

Via the new, free to use portal – www.mattressdisposal.co.uk – consumers can search for and see what their local authority is currently doing with the mattresses they receive at household waste collection sites or through door to door bulky waste collections. There are links to the NBF’s consumer information website, www.bedadvice.co.uk , alternative collection services available to consumers if their local council is not recycling, plus advice on mattress care.

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