BlogConscious Consumption

How to Keep Your Old Mattress Out of the Landfill

Rick Blanchard is an expert on sleep product materials and manufacturing for His research covers the entire life cycle of mattresses and bedding, including production, wear over time, and disposal. Rick lives in Tarrytown, New York.

You may love your old mattress, but when it looks more like a canoe than an inviting friend, it’s time for it to go. However, there’s a serious number of mattresses finding their way into landfills. A mattress takes up extra space, doesn’t crush or compact like other garbage, and can clog machinery, making them particularly difficult to deal with in a landfill. But, a landfill isn’t your only option when it comes to your old mattress. Many mattresses can be recycled or donated. Once you’re looking for something new, focus on recyclable and biodegradable materials.

Break Down and Recycle the Components

Mattresses contain components that can be recycled once removed. For example:


  • Steel: Innerspring or coil mattresses may contain as much as 25 pounds of steel. After it’s been removed, the steel can be melted down to be used in the manufacturing of other items. There’s enough steel in some mattresses that you may need to borrow a truck or hire a service to transport it for you.
  • Wood: Wood frames help cut back on weight, and the wood itself can be chipped or pulped to make paper.
  • Polyurethane Foam: Foam makes up a significant portion of some mattresses. Of all the recyclable materials in a mattress, the foam is one of the easiest to break down. Recycled foam makes up carpet padding, car seats, and other items that need dense, shock-absorbing foam.
  • Fabric: Both natural and synthetic fibers cover the outside of a mattress. Once they’ve been cleaned and shredded, natural fibers can be used to make more yarn while synthetics can be used to make shower curtains or new mattress covers.


Companies that dismantle mattresses are not as common as other recycling services, but you have a few options to help you find one.


Earth 911: Put in your zip code and they type of materials you want to recycle and the site will direct you to the nearest recycling location.


Bye Bye Mattress: Another service to help you locate a facility that takes mattresses. They also work with government and waste management agencies to help them understand and adhere to recycling laws and requirements.


Donate to a Cause

Recycling may not be an option in your area. If that’s the case, several charitable organizations, including the Salvation Army, take mattress donations. You can then deduct the fair market value of your mattress on your taxes. Many of these organizations will also pick up your mattress if transporting an item that size is a problem for you. Keep in mind that if your mattress has any stains, tears, or a bug infestation, most places will not accept the donation.

Choose Your Next Mattress Carefully

The choices you make about your next mattress make a difference. Some mattresses have more recyclable components than others. It’s also important to check labels, looking for as many natural biodegradable materials as possible, such as:


  • Natural latex
  • Plant-based polyfoam and memory foam
  • Natural, organic fabrics like cotton and wool


As a whole, natural latex mattresses are the most biodegradable, but be careful when searching for one as they can be made of either natural or synthetic latex. As a petroleum-based product, synthetic latex is non-biodegradable so check labels carefully. All the choices you make impact the world around you. By making responsible choices in the disposal of the old and purchase of the new, you’re thinking in terms of a sustainable future.


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