The global mattress industry is a multi billion-pound business and continues to expand rapidly. According to Fortune Business Insides [1], In 2022, the size of the worldwide mattress market reached $50.61 billion (£39.9 billion). The market is anticipated to experience sizable growth, projected to increase from $52.45 billion (£41 billion) in 2023 to a whopping $78.34 billion (£61.73 billion) by 2030, reflecting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.9% throughout the specified period. To expand market share and boost sales, mattress retailers compete with each other to offer a variety of promotions and launch all kinds of new products. However, as the sales number of new mattresses increases, so do the replacement and disposal rates of the old ones. 

It is estimated that over 7 million mattresses are discarded each year in the UK, and approximately 2.9 million of them come to an early end.[2] At the same time, the recycling rate of these mattresses is discouraging. In Scotland, 600,000 mattresses are disposed of annually, and only 10% are recycled, which is significantly low compared to the already-low 20% mattress recycling rate across the UK.[3] 

Landfill Crisis

Mattresses that are unsuitable for donation or processed by recycling facilities, which count for the vast majority of discarded mattresses, usually end up in landfills. The ever-growing mountains of these non-biodegradable masses have brought significant challenges to the landfills, contributing to a landfill crisis. 

Taking Up Large Space in Landfills 

Mattresses are bulky items that could take up much of valuable landfill space. According to the National Bed Federation, approximately 4.75 million discarded mattresses end up in UK landfills or incinerated annually. To put this into perspective, this quantity is comparable to an area nearly four times the size of the City of London, and it would fill Wembley Stadium twice or the Royal Albert Hall 22 times.[4]

Causing Harmful Chemicals 

Stacking up mattresses in landfills is associated with a variety of harmful chemicals that could cause safety or health issues. Mattresses conceal gaps in waste piles and hence trap explosive methane gas, which can lead to dangerous incidents such as fire. Moreover, mattresses can contain toxic chemicals like flame retardants, formaldehyde, and phthalates, which may seep into the surrounding environment, posing a risk of contaminating the soil, water, and air.

Contributing to Global Warming

Waste deposited in landfills generates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Increased landfill waste leads to greater methane production, exacerbating the issue. In particular, because mattresses are bulky and do not break down easily, they could turn into vast methane generators that remain in landfills for decades. 

What Can We Do about Unwanted Mattresses?

Bulky Waste Collection 

Some councils provide bulky waste collection services, which may cover mattresses. However, these council services can be costly, and a prolonged waiting period may be anticipated. Additionally, mattresses may not be fully recycled this way, leading to a considerable portion possibly ending up in a local landfill.

Passing On for Reuse

You can contribute mattresses to a charity shop, a furniture reuse organisation, or a local community project and pass on your unwanted mattresses to those who need them. Check out the Reuse Tool on Zero Waste Scotland’s website to discover nearby organisations that collect mattresses. Typically, these local reuse organisations are social enterprises and charities that sell second-hand furniture in their stores to support charitable initiatives or assist low-income individuals in establishing their homes. Make sure you retain the fire safety label on your mattress, as charities and reuse organisations require it for resale purposes.

King Size Recycling 

King Size Recycling is a professional mattress recycling company that offers comprehensive collection services to an extensive range of customers. The company adopts the principles of a full circular economy. Every received mattress is meticulously deconstructed into individual components. These components are then baled and reintegrated into relevant industries for manufacturing new goods. For the small portion of materials that cannot be reintegrated (e.g., contaminated mattresses and waste ticking), they are sent for processing as biofuel. This strategic approach ensures that every mattress or bed is fully recycled and avoids the fate of ending up in a landfill.

Join us on a journey to a more sustainable future! Get in touch today 

Works Cited

[1] Fortune Business Insights. “Mattress Market Share, Size, Analysis, Forecast, Report, 2032.” Fortune Business Insights, 2023, https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/mattress-market-102108. 

[2] North London Waste Authority. “Brits’ bad bed habits sending 2.9m mattresses a year to an early end | NLWA.” North London Waste Authority, 25 February 2022, https://www.nlwa.gov.uk/news/brits-bad-bed-habits-sending-29m-mattresses-year-early-end. 

[3] Zero Waste Scotland. “Mattress Extended Producer Responsibility.” Zero Waste Scotland, 11 November 2019, https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/resources/mattress-extended-producer-responsibility. 

[4] National Bed Federation. “National Bed Federation calls on Government to end the ‘postcode lottery’ of access to mattress recycling.” The National Bed Federation, 3 August 2023, https://www.bedfed.org.uk/national-bed-federation-calls-on-government-to-end-the-postcode-lottery-of-access-to-mattress-recycling/.