How to dispose of your old mattress easily and still be environmentally friendly
With around 4.75 million mattresses a year ending up in landfill or incinerated in the UK each year, there is an increasing requirement for a nationwide programme to fund a service enabling everyone to recycle their used mattresses.
While some parts of the country are well-equipped with facilities to recycle end-of-life mattresses, either at the local household waste recycling centre or via a household collection service, many are not, with the fragmented system amounting to a postcode lottery.
Did you know
- In 2022, 22 million people admitted to throwing away their mattresses in the last 7 years
- In the UK, around 22 million pieces of damaged household furniture, including mattresses, tables, chairs and wardrobes end up in landfill every single year
- 3 million household items of furniture sent to landfill could be re-used or recycled
So why does all this matter?
The production of mattresses uses lots of energy and materials – in fact, the carbon footprint of a double mattress is 79kg CO2e. That is equal to driving almost 200 extra miles in a car. If we use and throw them away too quickly, that means avoidable carbon emissions that harm the environment. One of the best things we can do for the environment is to keep things for longer and recycle them at the end of life.
So here are some of the options to consider when you need to dispose of an old mattress.
Before disposing of your old mattress, look at its condition – as long as it’s clean and in good condition, it could really make a difference to someone else.
Some charities accept old mattresses as donations, and it can be a good way to support them. By passing it on to a charity, you know that your mattress will go to someone who really needs it.
Just bear in mind that to donate your mattress, it must meet certain criteria, or else the charity won’t accept it. Usually, as a minimum, you’ll need to make sure the fire label is clean, intact, and the mattress is in generally good condition.
We have listed a few charities that accept old mattresses in the UK below.
- British Heart Foundation– They collect your mattress from you for free and sell it in one of their second-hand stores.
- Furniture Donation Network – Fill in a form online, send images of your mattress and if it passes their selection criteria then arrange a time slot for them to collect it from you for free. If your furniture doesn’t quite match their quality requirements then they direct you to one of their partner sites, Bulky Waste or the Skip Hire Network who can come and remove your item at a cost to you. This charity helps previously homeless people access furniture for their new accommodation.
- British Red Cross– Free collection is available in certain areas, and the charity resells pre-loved mattresses in its charity shops.
- Emmaus – There are 29 Emmaus hubs all over the UK, and free collection is available.
Freecycle’s main aim is to keep still useful items out of landfill and is a non-profit organisation. By listing your old mattress or other pieces of furniture on their website, you can let people in your community know that it’s available. You won’t get any money for it (it’s called Freecycle for a reason!), but when someone gets in touch with you and shows an interest in your item, you can arrange for them to come and collect it from you.
If your mattress is still in relatively good shape and clean, then you could get some money towards a new one. There are lots of different options when it comes to selling online, Gumtree being one of them. You can list your mattress for free and it only takes a few minutes to set up an account. Take a few photos of your mattress and write a description. Then post online. Just remember that your images must be a true and fair reflection of your mattress, and it’s highly recommended that your fire safety labels are clear and intact.
So remember to dispose of your old mattress responsibly:
- Mattresses can be recycled.
- Mattresses are one of the most fly-tipped items so avoid paying someone to take yours away unless you’re confident they are disposing of it responsibly
- Some brands will charge a fee to take away your old mattress when delivering a new one but it’s not always clear where it will end up. Ask them how it will be disposed of and if it’s not going to be recycled, look into your local recycling service.