Mattress 'mountains' springing up as firms find recycling too costly

Discarded mattresses at a recycling centre, as unwanted mattresses create an environmental menace across the UK.
Discarded mattresses at a recycling centre, as unwanted mattresses create an environmental menace across the UK.

Unwanted mattresses are creating an environmental menace across the UK, with millions ending up in landfill or simply being dumped, it is claimed.

Mattress "mountains" are sprouting up as recycling companies find it too difficult and costly to dispose of the springy bed supports responsibly, according to one expert.

Many mattresses simply end up being dumped.

Many mattresses simply end up being dumped.

At any time, there are more than 63 million mattresses in use in the UK.

Only 16% are recycled at the end of their life, with the rest being incinerated, buried in landfill sites, or abandoned on vacant lots, said Nick Oettinger, managing director at The Furniture Recycling Group (TFRG).

He said: "I'm sad to say that there has been a rise in the number of recycling companies failing to disposes of mattresses responsibly; instead abandoning them in large piles on rented land.

"However, these situations are rarely intentional. Most recycling companies enter the industry with all good intentions, but with mattress recycling being so expensive, time-intensive and difficult, many find it impossible to maintain the necessary level of operation to cope with the scale of the task at hand."

Mr Oettinger, whose company disposes of mattresses for hotels, local authorities, waste management companies and department stores, spoke out after he was contacted by several landlords "stung" by irresponsible recycling services.

He urged anyone getting rid of mattresses through a recycling company to look for testimonials, make regular visits to the recycling site and ensure they are happy with the dismantling process.

TFRG recently launched a patented mattress recycling machine which dismantles and separates pocket spring components in minutes.

The time-consuming process of breaking down mattresses is one of the main reasons why so many recycling companies resort to dumping them instead, said Mr Oettinger.