How Can I Dispose of a Mattress and Box Spring?

When it comes to disposing of a mattress and a box spring or divan bed, most of us think of two main options: rubbish or recycling. But although these options exist, how can you be sure either of them mean responsible disposal? Waste ways There are two main waste disposal options available in most areas of the UK:
  • Landfill disposal: taking your box bed and mattress to the nearest landfill site means your items can be dumped, literally into the ground, where the majority of the bed will not biodegrade and will become one of the 7.5 million beds dumped as waste each year in the UK. With the majority of the bed parts, such as the box springs, being non-biodegradable or causing environmental problems (for example the mattress and box fabrics leaching fire- retardant chemicals into the ground), landfill is a place where old beds damage rather than contribute to the environment.

  • Council Collection: Council collection is a popular choice in most areas. However, there is a significant charge which can vary considerably across the different UK councils (eg: Aylesbury Vale District Council, £75 for up to 3 items; North Somerset Council, £66.50 for a maximum of 6 items; Bristol City Warwick City Council £35 per item). This option can work out both expensive and inconvenient for some households:
    • Particularly with a box-spring and mattress, as some local councils count each piece as a separately chargeable item.
    • All bed parts need to be placed kerbside on collection day, often by 6 a.m. something which is not always possible for elderly, disabled or unable.
Recycling routes There are many ways to recycle a bed, but some may also prove costly or lead to irresponsible disposal later down the line.
  • Selling online.
    To sell the bed online it has to be in an acceptably good, clean condition. This could involve the costs of having the mattress professionally cleaned, which may mean it’s not worth selling the bed.

  • Donations.
    Donating goods can popularly be done through several online, in-print and in person methods:

    • Online via Freecycle / Freegle or via Facebook groups.
    • GumTree online and local newspapers often run “Free to Collector” classified ads free for advertisers. Although this can be a good way to get your bed picked up and passed on, an additional concern for many people (particularly the elderly or the vulnerable) is that this means strangers coming around to the house to pick up the item. There is also no guarantee that the bed will be ethically disposed of when it does reach the end of its useful life.
    • Donating to a charitable organisation, such as the Salvation Army or British Heart Foundation, or a charity helping others to set up home is possible but beds will need to meet an acceptable criteria, such as having a fire-retardant label. Older beds, or those which are marked in some way may not be accepted - even if still usable. If it is usable but needs a clean first, the cleaning would need to take place before donating, with the costs coming out of your own pocket.

  • Taking it to a recycling centre.
    Although this is a good option for responsible bed disposal, not all local recycling centres are set up for mattress recycling, so it is a good idea to check before setting out. To recycle this way, the hassle of loading and making the journey to transport the bed will be down to you and, as the nearest dedicated bed and mattress recycling centre may be some distance away, the cost and hassle of transporting need to be taken into account.

  • Private collection.
    There are private collection companies whose role is to collect and dispose of beds ethically. However, care should be taken to avoid rogue companies who may charge a fee to ‘recycle’ the item, but who may actually fly tip the item instead of responsibly recycling it.

    To avoid this, it’s recommended that a professionally recognised company should be used, not an unlicensed ‘cash only’ collection service. Using a licensed company such as Collect Your Old Bed, offers the assurance of a fully professional service for convenient collection and removal of the bed from your home, with assured delivery to a dedicated mattress recycling centre where the box base and mattress will be 100% recycled.
The bottom line of disposing of a mattress and box spring is to remember that although it may no longer be useful to your household, and languishing in landfill is no use to the environment, it is still useful – either to another household or to environmental causes, by being responsibly recycled