PUTTING THE BOUNCE BACK INTO MATTRESS RECYCLING IN NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

2010/2011 was not a good year for Newcastle City Council, with statistics demonstrating that the percentage of household waste being reused, sent for recycling or composting had dropped from 41% to 33% from the previous year 2009/2010 (source: DEFRA data, England Recycling, 2011). With EU and national targets which dictate that 50% of household waste should end up recycled, rather than languishing in landfill, by 2020 the council have needed to take action to improve these statistics, particularly 2015 sees the UK halfway to the decade’s target deadline. Rethinking recycling In response, 2012 saw Newcastle City Council make things easier for householders with a change to their bulky item collection system. This saw twice-yearly only kerbside collections replaced with an on-demand booking service or self-haul voucher options, which allow households to take their bulky waste items to the local Summerhill Waste Management Centre. Householders can use this service to dispose of bulky items such as:
  • Domestic white goods
  • Up to 20 bags of garden waste
  • Up to 5 bags of rubble
  • Furniture items including mattresses and beds.
Fresh start advantages The advantage of this fresh start for bulky waste collection in Newcastle has resulted in savings on collection costs for the council along with a reduction in road-side waste awaiting pick-ups, as well as the anti-social behaviours associated with scavenging and the health and safety risks of items abandoned on pavements and roadsides. The newer system has also allowed households to take their own items to the designated tip at their own convenience. However, the biggest advantage has been that the new system for bulky waste also allows the council to strip all collected and self-hauled items of their recyclable components, an action which seems to have helped the council to get back on track with that 50% target, as 2012/2013’s statistics for the area’s waste management showed a rise in recycled household waste to approximately 45% (Source: Newcastle Upon Tyne City Council). Down in the dumps Unfortunately, despite the council’s best efforts, some households do experience disadvantages from the new system:
  • The fee for each bulky waste collection is £15. For this a varying amount of items can be collected.
  • Gauging the amount of items which count as “one collection” can be confusing. The council stipulates that one collection can be items which are broadly the equivalent of 20 bags of garden refuse. For example, a bed, mattress, 2 cabinets and a 3 drawer chest are the maximum in one collection, but of course the overall size and weight of such items can vary considerably.
  • Bulky items can only be put outside the night before collection is due, no sooner otherwise households could be fined for fly-tipping.
  • Collection staff cannot enter homes, so households must remove the items from their own homes… not easy for all families, particularly the elderly or disabled who might not be able to manoeuvre a large mattress or divan base out of the house.
Less cost, more options An ideal alternative, to help ensure that beds and mattresses are recycled, but often at less cost and greater convenience than council-run schemes come from Collect Your Old Bed’s system, which offers several additional advantages:
  • Costs involved can be significantly less. Single bed prices start from £11.99 and all prices are listed, no gauging or guess-work;
  • Collect Your Old Bed can collect when it suits householders and they will collect from inside the house… no having to lug items outside;
  • The service is easy and convenient to use, with a simple three-step online process using the Collect Your Old Bed website:
    • Enter the postcode for collection;
    • Add the number and types of items to be collected;
    • Select a collection date and complete contact details.
Additionally, there’s a 100% guarantee that all parts of beds, including frames, bases and mattresses, will be recycled;
  • Mattress fabric can be recycled into carpet padding and other textiles;
  • Recycled wood components has new potential as kitty litter, pet bedding, garden mulch and chippings, biomass fuel;
  • Recycled steel mattress parts and bed base springs can be repurposed into hardware items – with the steel remaining recyclable across many lifetimes!
New steps for Newcastle With plenty of options including council bulky waste pick-ups and Collect Your Old Bed mattress collection and recycling in Newcastle, local households are taking great steps towards keeping a focus on recycling and helping to support the local, national and global environment.