Starting in 2023, all UK organisations that import or supply packaging are required to collect and report packaging data.[1] This is part of the UK’s new environmental legislation, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which is poised for full implementation by 2027. Expected to bring about substantial changes, the legislation will have implications for a wide range of industries, including the mattress sector.

What is EPR?

According to the National Bed Federation (NBF),[2] EPR refers to an environmental policy that expands the responsibility of manufacturers and distributors to include the entire life cycle of a product. This includes accounting for disposal costs, collection, and transportation upon reaching the end of its useful life, along with considerations of recyclability during the product development stage.

The main aims of EPR are promoting a circular economy and recycling. By making producers more financially responsible for the environmental impact of their packaging (e.g., higher fees will be charged for producing difficult-to-recycle packaging), they are encouraged to incorporate environmental principles in the design of products and maximise the potential for resource efficiency, which will eventually lead to the minimization of the environmental impact for a product at the end of its life. 

What are the requirements?

The requirements vary depending on how the organisation is classified, determined by its annual turnover and the amount of packaging it supplies or imports annually.

Organisations may need to:

  • Collect and report data on the packaging they supply or import.
  • Pay a waste management fee.
  • Cover scheme administrator costs.
  • Pay a charge to the environmental regulator.
  • Obtain packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to fulfil recycling obligations.
  • Report information about which nation in the UK packaging is supplied in and which nation in the UK packaging is discarded in – known as ‘nation data’. [3]

How does the EPR affect the mattress industry?

EPR has been proven to be effective in facilitating mattress recycling rates worldwide. In Brussels, the mattress recycling rate has risen significantly since the EPR came into effect in 2021.[4] Similarly, in the first year of the program’s implementation in 2013, Connecticut, USA, saw a substantial surge in mattress recycling, with rates climbing from 8.7% to 63.5%.[5] 

The EPR is projected to play an essential role in achieving NBF’s ambitious goal of diverting 75% of end-of-life mattresses from landfill in the UK.[2] With the necessary revenue and incentives provided by the policy, more collection and recycling infrastructure will be developed, which will presumably lead to an apparent increase in the mattress recycling rate. 

While certain industry stakeholders, particularly recyclers, are actively advocating for a more sustainable and circular approach to mattress management, they call for increased collaboration from the broader supply chain to enact significant transformations and comprehensively assess the holistic consequences of any changes within the industry. The implementation of EPR will help those striving for improved practices and promote the consideration of the whole life cycle of a mattress.

Having forged partnerships with a diverse range of businesses and organisations within and connected to the mattress industry across Scotland, King Size Recycling is firmly committed to supporting enterprises in their efforts towards sustainability and eco-friendliness. Reach out to us today to learn more about our service!

Works Cited

[1] Dobson, Matt. “What is the packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?” GWP Group, 2024, https://www.gwp.co.uk/guides/packaging-extended-producer-responsibility-epr/. 

[2] National Bed Federation. “End-of-life mattress report 2022.” 2022, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a60c3cc9f07f58443081f58/t/651bf327187ac63acb8bcb71/1696330537087/NBF-EoL-mattress-report-final.pdf.

[3] GOV.UK. “Extended producer responsibility for packaging: who is affected and what to do.” GOV.UK, 2024, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/extended-producer-responsibility-for-packaging-who-is-affected-and-what-to-do. 

[4] Amies, Nick. “Recycling provides millions of mattresses with the chance of a ‘second life.’” The Brussels Times, 26 March 2023, https://www.brusselstimes.com/419135/recycling-provides-millions-of-mattresses-with-the-chance-of-a-second-life.

[5] Product Stewardship Institute. “Mattresses.” Product Stewardship Institute, 2024, https://productstewardship.us/products/mattresses/.