Recycling Report 2014
THE STATE OF MATTRESS RECYCLING IN THE UK: THE NATIONAL BED FEDERATION PUBLISHES ITS FIRST REPORT
The National Bed Federation (NBF) has published its first ‘End of Life Report for Mattresses’. Produced on behalf of the NBF by Oakdene Hollins, specialists in research and consultancy in the field of recycling and end of life (EOL), the report sets out to quantify and assess the current state of recovery of EOL mattresses for recycling.
Tony Lisanti, chair of the NBF’s Recycling Group explains the rationale behind the report: “At some point in the future, it will be unacceptable, for either environmental or financial reasons, simply to send EOL mattresses to landfill as a method of disposal. It is the NBF’s position that we should be developing recycling strategies that work for both the industry and legislators. This information gathering report, which we intend to repeat and improve upon on a regular basis, will arm us with essential facts about the state of mattress disposal and recycling the UK and ensure the NBF is recognised as a key partner for legislators in the future.”
The report sets out, not only how to collect available data on recycling and EOL mattresses, but also to develop a methodology for future surveys of the supply chain and to understand the data gaps and other lessons learnt so as to improve the accuracy of the data in future years.
The report estimates that, in 2013, 600,000 mattresses were collected for recycling, 30% more than in 2012, representing a recycling rate of c. 13%, up from less than 10% in 2012.
However there remain considerable barriers to increasing the rate of recycling, many of which are shared by manufacturers, retailers and local authorities. Top of the list is cost, with landfill still the cheapest option. A further important barrier currently is the low financial return being achieved by mattress recyclers, with limited markets for recyclates and lack of stability in these end markets, also cited. Local authorities account for the largest proportion of recycled mattresses, but less than a quarter have any infrastructure in place for mattress recycling and their rate of recycling varies greatly around the country, from almost 100% to less than 1%.
Although there are considerable improvements to be made to the response rate to surveys, the NBF’s report is believed to be the first comprehensive report of its kind. “At present there is little reliable data on mattress waste and recycling in the UK,” says Mr Lisanti. “We’ve made a significant start and hopefully, with the publication of this report, the next time around, response rates and data will improve.”