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Background Every year, over 30 million mattresses are sent to landfills in the USA. Each day, 20 miles of mattresses are disposed of. Annually, 7,300 miles of mattresses are thrown away. Because of their large size and low density, mattresses are not space efficient for such landfills. On top of their bulky nature, mattress springs are notorious for getting caught in landfill equipment and causing expensive damages to bulldozers, loaders, and other trucks. Considering the value of raw materials in a mattress, it is apparent that this potentially valuable asset is wreaking havoc in a multitude of areas.
Vision Spring Back believes that by collecting, deconstructing, and recycling mattresses, it can greatly reduce the negative impact of used bedding. Furthermore, by partnering with organizations that employ homeless and disenfranchised people, Spring Back believes that this lucrative venture can empower individuals by providing employment, skills training, and access to the first rung of the development ladder.
Method The Spring Back model is built on a framework that pulls supply from retailers, institutions and individuals. The collected mattresses are disassembled, and then the raw materials are sold to aftermarket recyclers. Income is generated by charging on the front end, then selling raw materials after disassembly.
Mattress retailers that solicit a pick-up service for old mattresses are charged a fee per mattress to recycle them, and are then provided with customizable marketing materials that advertise their environmental and social responsibility. Individuals that would like for their mattress to be picked up on an individual basis can pay to drop their mattresses off at the disassembly warehouse.
Once the mattresses are in the warehouse, men work to disassemble the mattress by separating the cotton, foam, mixed rags, metal, and wood, and bale them so they are ready to be picked up by commodity buyers. Through this process, they attain gainful employment, receive skills training, and gain insight into small business principles.
Progress Thus Far Spring Back was piloted for 6 months with the support of Mattress Unlimited. In this period, we recycled more than 2,800 mattresses, and diverted over 75,000 lbs of steel from landfills.