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CT continues to recycle thousands of old mattresses, giving trash new life

Bye Bye Mattress collects units across the state at participating town transfer stations, public works yards, seasonal collection events and waste haulers offering curbside collection service. This collection network spans 154 Connecticut municipalities, an increase of seven from the prior year.
Photo provided by Mattress Recycling Council
Bye Bye Mattress collects units across the state at participating town transfer stations, public works yards, seasonal collection events and waste haulers offering curbside collection service. This collection network spans 154 Connecticut municipalities, an increase of seven from the prior year.

More Connecticut cities and towns are part of a program keeping a growing number of clean, dry mattresses and box springs out of landfills, and reusing the materials to make new products.

According to the Mattress Recycling Council’s latest annual report, 154 municipalities now participate in the state’s Bye Bye Mattress program – up by 7 cities and towns from the year before. Connecticut recycled nearly 200,000 mattresses and box springs from July 2022 through June of 2023, bringing the state’s total number to over 1.5 million since the program began in 2015.

Recycling mattresses is not only more environmentally sustainable, it also makes it easier to manage landfills, said Tom Metzner, an environmental analyst with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

“Mattresses are difficult, ” Metzner said. “They're bulky, [landfill operators] get coils and metals that can get mixed up with processing equipment.”

Once an old mattress is disassembled, materials like foam, cotton, wood, and metal springs can all be reused to make new products like carpets. The program is funded by a recycling fee included in the price of a mattress or box spring, which helps municipalities save on the cost of picking up the difficult-to-haul waste, Metzner said.

“It’s a classic example of the benefits of extended producer responsibility,” Metzner said.

Extended producer responsibility shifts end-of-life-financial and management responsibility to manufacturers and away from the public, and considers environmental impact in product design. In Connecticut, this product stewardship model also applies to items like paint, certain electronic waste and tires.

According to the report, more than 24,000 tons of mattress materials have been diverted from Connecticut landfills in the last eight years.

Connecticut was the first state to join the recycling program, which now also runs in Rhode Island and California.

But challenges remain. It’s not as convenient for residents without a car to get their mattress to a transfer station, Metzner said, and leaving items curbside for pickup runs the risk of damage.

Not all bed items are accepted, such as futons and mattress toppers. Mattresses or box springs that are heavily soiled, or infested with bed bugs, are also not suitable for recycling.

Once a mattress is dropped off, about 75% of its materials are recycled, according to Dan McGowan, the Mattress Recycling Council’s Northeast program coordinator. The group is working to increase that number by finding more uses for the foam and cotton, he said.

Have an old mattress or box spring to recycle? Here's how:

  • Drop it off at a participating recycler, collection site or collection event.
  • Have it picked up through a community curbside collection event.
  • See if your mattress retailer will pick up your old unit when they deliver a new one.
  • Curious where to drop off your old mattress? Here’s how to find a location.
As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla Savitt focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. Michayla has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that she was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.