Oakdene Hollins' 2016 End of Life Mattress Report for the NBF updates and improves on the 2014 report on the state of mattress recycling/re-use in the UK. It provides quantified levels of recycling and indicates trends.

As Tony Lisanti, chair of the NBF Recycling Group, said: “We hope this document will become the prime repository, by some considerable way, for ‘academic’ research into this area and that anyone seriously interested in the matter of mattress recycling will naturally be guided to the NBF. We expect this work to allow us to engage meaningfully with legislators, ensuring our thoughts are properly considered when legislation in this area is drawn up – as it inevitably will be in future.”

The report estimates that, of the 5.9 million EoL mattresses (latest, 2014 data) weighing around 148,000 tonnes, 16% were recycled, 11% were incinerated for energy recovery and 73% were landfilled.  It found an upward trend in recycling rates: 20% increased recycling by local authorities; 27% by manufacturers and 10% by retailers.

But the work identifies issues for mattress recyclers that mean this trend may not be sustained in 2015 and 2016 figures.  These include costs of collection and dismantling compared to landfill costs, and difficulties in addressing health & safety and other compliance issues and in finding markets for recovered materials. Recycling rates reported in different regions are extremely variable, with the availability of good quality local recyclers identified as the greatest barrier to recycling after cost constraints.

The report makes several recommendations, including the setting up of a forum/association for all stakeholders in mattress recycling to help promote and develop the sector, along with the development of independent audit processes and new quality standards for the processing of secondary materials. Other suggestions include setting up standard reporting protocols for mattress reuse and recycling.

Mr Lisanti commented: “On a very practical basis we [the NBF] want to use the research and subsequent analysis to provide NBF members with options for the ethical, environmentally acceptable and cost effective approach to Product Stewardship and, within that, the disposal of EoL mattresses. Amongst our aims is to work with the recycling industry to ultimately be in a position whereby the NBF will endorse a network of mattress recyclers that conforms to an audited code of practice.”


The report is available to download from the NBF website.  For more information, contact Dr Nia Bell at Oakdene Hollins.

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