There are a lot of ways to encourage people to recycle: Provide conveniently located collection bins; educate the public about why it’s important; offer incentives for people who do the right thing. And if a government body is really serious about recycling a certain item, it can make it illegal to put that item in the trash. That’s what happened in Vancouver, BC, which banned mattresses and box springs from landfills at the beginning of 2011. Transfer stations charge a $20 fee to accept mattresses, but residents are encouraged to take their mattresses to one of three local recyclers, all of whom charge lower fees to recycle beds. Mattressrecycling.ca is the largest mattress recycler in the region. The company was founded in 2008 by Zac Plavsic, an Olympic windsurfer, and his friend, Fabio Scaldaferri. Plasvic competed in the Beijing Olympics and says he was alarmed at the pollution levels in China. He returned to Canada intent on doing something to help the environment. He and Scaldaferri settled on mattress recycling because no one else in western Canada was doing it at the time. They were also some of the biggest proponents for a landfill ban. Others have jumped on the mattress recycling bandwagon since passage of the law earlier this year. Canadian Mattress Recycling opened in January. It is owned by a local family and has a strong focus on environmental stewardship. It also accepts stuffed furniture and other types of metal for recycling. Mattress recycling fees at these businesses are $12.50 Canadian and $12 Canadian, respectively. Recyclers say they can find homes for 95% to 99% of the material that comes out of an old mattress. Steel can be recycled by a metal recycler. Foam goes into carpet padding, and wood is burned as a fuel or used in furniture. Even some of the coconut fiber, typically one of the hardest things to recycle, has made its way from Canadian Mattress Recycling into mulching projects and a green roof. So far, the mattress ban is paying off. Metro Vancouver, the government agency that provides regional planning and services, reports that 47,000 mattresses and box springs have been diverted so far this year. That comes out to more than 1 million cubic feet in landfill savings. It has also created 45 new jobs for residents of British Columbia. The success of the program hasn’t escaped notice. “Mattresses used to do nothing except take up room in landfills, and now they’re a recycling success story,” lauded Metro Vancouver Waste Committee Chair Greg Moore in a recent press release. “Now we’re recovering useful resources and helping support the local economy.” Looking to find a mattress recycling location near you? Head over to our recycling location finder.
Vancouver Mattress Recycling Saves Landfill Space, Creates Jobs
A 2011 landfill ban on mattresses in British Columbia’s biggest city is fueling high recycling numbers and stimulating the local economy.