Old mattresses are seen before they're crushed by a baler at the Bye Bye Mattress warehouse and drop-off center in San Leandro, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. The program kicked off in Jan. 2016 to help rid landfills, streets and waterways of discarded mattresses. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

In summary

Mike O’Donnell, Mattress Recycling Council: State and local leaders and solid waste companies should join the Bye Bye Mattress program to expand free mattress recycling to businesses and residents.

By Mike O’Donnell, Special to CalMatters

Mike O’Donnell is managing director of the Mattress Recycling Council, mikeo@mattressrecyclingcouncil.org. He wrote this commentary for CalMatters.

As the recycling industry faces global challenges, California’s program to recycle used mattresses continues to be overwhelmingly successful: more than 5 million mattresses recycled in less than five years, supporting the state’s recycling goals and serving as a global model.

The Mattress Recycling Council designed the Bye Bye Mattress program to make it easy for Californians to do the right thing and recycle their old mattresses. More than 80 percent of the mattresses discarded in California are now being diverted from landfills. For every mattress recycled, components such as steel, foam, wood and cotton are reclaimed and made into new products. Since the program launched, 168 million pounds of these valuable materials have been recycled statewide, saving more than 6.2 million cubic yards of landfill space.

Key to that success is a focus on expanding mattress recycling access for all Californians, no matter where they live. Through innovative collaborations with solid waste facilities and nonprofits, including the Conservation Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul, the Mattress Recycling Council has developed more than 200 no-cost drop-off sites throughout the state. The organization also hosts 140 collection events a year and works with 40 municipalities to recycle mattresses collected from curbside pickup programs.

This diverse network means that residents in all 58 California counties have no-cost options to recycle used mattresses. Recent studies show that 93 percent of Californians live within 15 miles of a Bye Bye Mattress collection point and access is increasing every year. In addition, California mattress retailers must offer to take back old mattresses at no charge when delivering a new one. In 2021, online mattress retailers will be required to offer take-back services, providing additional recycling opportunities.

The Mattress Recycling Council is also tackling illegal dumping by allocating $1 million each year to track the location of illegally dumped mattresses and help affected communities. The organization actively engages in local and state task forces, and recently hosted an interactive workshop dedicated to finding solutions to this persistent problem.

Industry-led recycling programs such as Bye Bye Mattress are an important part of helping California achieve its statewide 75% recycling goal. We encourage state and local leaders and solid waste companies to join the program to further expand free mattress recycling to businesses and residents. Together, we continue to show why California is leading the way to a greener economy.

For more information about the Mattress Recycling Council, go to MattressRecyclingCouncil.org. To learn how to recycle your mattress or to find a collection location or event near you, visit ByeByeMattress.com.

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Mike O’Donnell is managing director of the Mattress Recycling Council, mikeo@mattressrecyclingcouncil.org. He wrote this commentary for CalMatters.

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