Reaffirming the fraud message

Paul Beckett, founder of Bye Bye Beds and creator of Reborn, revisits the fraudulent issue of mattress recyclers selling components and how this is impacting the industry.

Last month, Paul highlighted an ongoing issue within the recycling trade, where mattress recyclers are selling components fraudulently without thorough due diligence on its intended use. In fact, Paul estimated that if the additional 4.8million mattresses currently sent to landfill were ‘recycled’ in the traditional manner, mattress fraud could potentially hit £240m.

Earlier this year, the National Bed Federation (NBF) also reported that mattress fraud is currently costing the beds industry £100m a year and has continued to raise awareness and warnings on such activity where unsuspecting consumers are being tricked into buying cheap mattresses that purport to be made with much higher specifications.

Estimates suggest that around 280,000 consumers each year are buying a mattress from the ‘back of a van’ – a number which is only increasing as people try to cut spending under the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis. The NBF warns that not only is buying a mattress in this way a false economy, as they are not the quality or brand of product they are labelled to be, but they may actually be unhygienic, second-hand mattresses or even unsafe due to the use of banned materials.

So, as Paul asks, “how would, and how does, this impact your business?” One solution Paul is campaigning for is to ban mattress recycler’s selling components to the industry without thorough due diligence.

“From the 6.8million mattresses disposed of in the UK each year, surely as an industry we should utilise our skills and take advantage of this great opportunity to ethically and transparently re-manufacture a plethora of sustainably manufactured products, which not only offers the only scalable and financially viable solution to the landfill crisis, but naturally puts an end to the mattress fraud that the bedding industry have been looking to resolve for over a decade. Not only that, it offers the consumer a choice never seen before.”

The latest consumer survey by the NBF also endorses this message, which revealed that sustainability issues are becoming an increasingly important factor in mattress purchasing decisions. The Consumer Research, undertaken in July and carried out by Censuswide, showed that almost three quarters of those that purchased a mattress would be prepared to pay more if they knew it had been designed and constructed in such a way as to avoid ending up in landfill at the end of its life.   

Of those who said they were prepared to pay more, 29% said they would pay up to an extra 5%; 38% said they would be prepared to pay between 6-10% more and 19% said they would pay between 11-15% more. The ‘mean’ extra that they would be prepared to pay was just under 10% more. This finding comes on the back of the NBF calling on government to support its plans for a nationwide programme to fund a service enabling everyone to recycle their used mattresses.

On the component side, the NBF said: “There is actually nothing illegal about manufacturing products with used components or materials – but they must be identified as such or else a company would be breaking the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which prohibit misleading actions and omissions and committing a criminal offence.

“It would also be a legal requirement to ensure the finished product complies with all current UK safety regulations. This would include compliance with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations and also the General Product Safety Regulations, which require all producers to ensure any product – used, second hand or reconditioned – placed on the market in the course of business to be safe – i.e. not to pose undue risk or harm in terms of health and safety to any person or persons. This applies to ensuring that fillings meet the current cleanliness of fillings standards.

“Buying from an Approved NBF member provides both retailers and consumers with a high degree of reassurance that their products comply with these legal requirements – but we would always recommend that due diligence is a two-way street.”

As for Bye Bye Bed Ltd, its purchases reclaimed materials at the same price they are currently selling out to rogue manufacturers, which helps to cut off or minimise the supply to fraudulent traders. This means that materials sold to Bye Bye Bed Ltd are then traceable and auditable, which are used in ethical, eco-friendly, sustainable, responsible manufacturing of legally compliant products, fire tested and sanitised to new levels of cleanliness, with planned recycling and reuse at the product end-of-life, contributing to a genuine circular economy.

“These products are sold and clearly identified as made from recycled materials and components, giving the end consumer a choice between a new product made from virgin raw materials, or a Reborn product manufactured from recycled materials, at a recycled product price,” says Paul. “Not everyone can afford the price tag of a luxuriously manufactured product but that doesn’t mean that they should not be offered the same comfort and quality level that fits within their budget.”

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