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Pandemic helps push up mattress recycling in Connecticut

Ryan Caron King

A representative with Connecticut's mattress recycling program believes the pandemic is part of the reason more people are choosing to recycle their old beds in the state.

Daniel McGowan, with the Mattress Recycling Council, told a coalition of state recycling leaders Tuesday that the number of old mattresses recycled in Connecticut was up 12% from the previous year.

“I think people are home and cleaning out sections of the house they hadn’t cleaned out before, so I think that contributed to it,” McGowan said.

In addition to the pandemic, McGowan said more disposal sites have come online and more schools and hospitals are recycling their old mattresses.

“I think it’s just expansion of the program as well,” he said.

Connecticut launched its mattress recycling program in 2015. The program collects a small fee at point of sale, which mattress manufacturers use to transport and recycle old beds.

For consumers, the program means old mattresses and box springs can be dropped off for free at a number of disposal locations across Connecticut.

Shifting some of the burden of recycling to manufacturers, what industry insiders call “product stewardship,” is gaining traction nationwide. As global recycling markets fail, lawmakers are re-examining the role industry should play in the life cycle of a product once it is sold, according to The New York Times.

Right now, Rhode Island and California also have mattress recycling programs.

McGowan said New York and Maine have considered similar ideas. Massachusetts also is piloting a smaller version of the mattress recycling idea in dozens of towns.

“We’re here to recycle a mattress from any Connecticut resident [and] business,” McGowan said. “And box spring. So, any retailer, hotel, school, hospital, nursing home — or even a small junk hauler. Anybody who is coming upon mattresses … we have an avenue for you.”

Copyright 2021 Connecticut Public Radio. To see more, visit Connecticut Public Radio.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter at WNPR. He covers science and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.