Mattress shredding – the USA’s next big recycling trend?

USA, 11.02.2020

It’s one of the bulkiest municipal trash products that operators are tasked with, which goes some way to explaining why mattresses – globally – represent a big recycling problem.

Their sheer size makes both storage and handling difficult – once they become ‘redundant’ – and with multiple composite materials ‘locked’ inside, they often feel too much of a challenge. So, are mattresses worth the processing effort?

In the eyes of many people no, which explains why so many are carelessly discarded at the kerbside. And of those that do end up in an official waste stream, landfill disposal is all too common. It is reported that, in the USA alone, 50,000 mattresses are thrown away every single day.

But this long-standing trend is about to change.

Mattress recycling is becoming a very hot topic.

In January 2020, the Mattress Recycling Council announced its new board of directors, as the non-profit organization continues its plight to share knowledge that will aid the development of sustainability programs in states that have enacted mattress recycling laws. To date, only three states appear to be actively engaged with this initiative, but with 5,000,000 mattresses collected and recycled so far, others are sure to follow suit.

That’s because approximately 80% of a used mattress can be recycled, once the materials are extracted and segregated. Foam makes the perfect carpet underlay or animal bedding, springs can be recycled as metal scrap, fabric and fibers can be compressed for use in secondary textile applications or even oil filters, and wooden frames can also be processed for remanufacture, biomass or landscaping mulch.

The environmental and commercial payback advantages of mattress recycling are therefore clear. But these benefits are far easier to achieve if a state-of-the-art shredding system can be designed to make the recycling process headache-free.

The secret to successful mattress shredding

On the other side of the Atlantic, for example, an UNTHA XR waste shredder impressed complex waste management specialist Recyk during a trial, due to its ability to comfortably handle over 200 mattresses per hour.

And here in the USA, a demo in Fort Worth Texas achieved similar impressive results. They say ‘seeing is believing’, so why not take a look at our on-site video, to see the technology in operation for yourself?

Explaining why the UNTHA XR waste shredder is ideal for mattress recycling, UNTHA America’s president Bernhard Martinz said: “With its impressive loading width, the XR can make light work of even oversized, bulky materials such as mattresses.

“This slow speed, high torque, electric-driven technology is also designed for low wear yet maximum performance, which means the multiple recyclables ‘locked’ in mattresses, can be liberated with ease.

“Then there’s the XR’s precision shred – tell us what your shredder needs to achieve and we’ll work with you to guarantee homogenous particle sizing for optimum recycling success.”

UNTHA’s director of global business development Gary Moore added: “We always say our technology is designed to process even materials that are deemed unshreddable, so it’s a pleasure to see organizations push the boundaries of innovation, and successfully putting our machines to the test. We’re achieving 100% recycling rates in some UK operations – this is the start of an extremely exciting mattress shredding step change.”