Friday (June 5) marked the 37th annual World Environment Day, a day originally established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. This years theme was “Your Planet Needs You–UNite to Combat Climate Change,” and emphasized the urgency for nations to unite.
To commemorate the event in Los Angeles, Environment Furniture (www.environment-furniture.com) and Goodwill Industries (www.goodwill.org) partnered to launch the Exchange for Change Project (EFC). With recycling as a core business principle for both companies, the project encourages consumers to donate their old sofa to Goodwill and in return receive a 25% discount on a new, sustainable Environment sofa made with reclaimed canvas or natural linen. Normal tax-deductions also apply.
Upon its success in Los Angeles, the EFC project may roll out nationwide in the near future. Find out more at Environment Furniture, 8126 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Tel: 323-782-0296, Mon-Sat 10-7; Sun 11-6.
How can I recycle my old mattress if the place I buy a new one from doesnt take it? What do mattress companies do with old mattresses when they do take them? Do they recycle any of the material? – J. Belli, Bridgeport, CT, USA
A typical mattress is a 23 cubic foot assembly of steel, wood, cotton and polyurethane foam. Given this wide range of materials, mattresses have typically been difficult to recycle-and still most municipal recycling facilities wont offer to do it for you. But along with increasing public concerns about the environment-and a greater desire to recycle everything we can-has come a handful of private companies and nonprofit groups that want to make sure your old bed doesnt end up in a landfill.
In the United States, the Lane County, Oregon chapter of the charity St. Vincent de Paul Society, for example, has spearheaded one of the nations most successful mattress recycling initiatives via its DR3 (“Divert, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”) program. “Keeping [mattresses] out of landfills is a matter of efficiently recycling them so their core materials can be reincarnated into any number of new products,” reports the group, which opened a large mattress recycling center in Oakland, California in 2001. (Why hundreds of miles away in Oakland? To “go where the mattresses are,” says Chance Fitzpatrick of the group.) The facility has been processing upwards of 300 mattresses and box springs per week ever since.
During the recycling process, each mattress or box spring is pushed onto a conveyor belt, where specially designed saws cut away soft materials on the top and bottom, separating the polyurethane foam and cotton fiber from the framework. The metal pieces are magnetically removed, and the remaining fiber materials are then shredded and baled. The whole process takes one worker just three to four minutes per mattress.
On a slow day, the DR3 facility recycles some 1,500 pounds of polyurethane foam, which totals a half million or more pounds over the course of a year. “A well-oiled recycling factory can reuse 90 percent of the mattress,” reports Josh Peterson of Discoverys Planet Green website. “The cotton and cloth get turned into clothes. The springs and the foam get recycled, and the wood gets turned into chips.”
While the DR3 facility only takes mattresses from a small group of waste haulers and individuals around the San Francisco Bay Area, other mattress recyclers are popping up around the U.S. and beyond. Some examples include Nine Lives Mattress Recycling in Pamplico, South Carolina; Conigliaro Industries in Framingham, Massachusetts; MattCanada in Montreal, QuĂ