End of life mattress recovery, recycling and refurbishment is a valuable activity that delivers significant environmental and economic benefits. For every tonne of used mattress material recycled there is an estimated 1.5tonnes of Co2‐e savings in greenhouse gas material and some 25M3 (cubic metres) of landfill space preserved.
Recycling mattresses is surprisingly complex; requiring dismantling and separation processes that require significant capital investment to undertake safely. While not common, sub‐standard handling and processing of end of life mattresses has been known to: act as a vector to allow parasites (mites, bed bugs) and contagious disease (via infected blood, sweat, urine, faeces) to be transmitted across the community; create OH&S risks (lifting, eye injuries and lacerations), contribute to lung disease (inhalation of fibres and dusts), and increase the risk of fire at storage facilities; result in illegal dumping and other unlawful disposal methods; and take up significant land fill space and lead to instability within the fill.
Concerned about whether the current practice met the community’s expectations, Boomerang Alliance commenced a review of the sector in Victoria in September 2015.
The results of our review highlight significant inadequacies across the sector and an uneven level of service between different operators. However, it should also be noted that the vast majority of operators should be congratulated on their efforts – most were committed to pursuing the highest standards possible but are stymied by a lack of regulations and industry standards to regulate the management of mattress waste and an approach to contracting within the local government sector that often does not encourage the maximum level of resource recovery.
The full report and Boomerang Alliance's recommendations can be downloaded here - Victorian Mattress Recycling Report Feb 2016.