“California’s Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act (enacted in 2013 and amended in 2014) requires mattress manufacturers to create a statewide recycling program for mattresses discarded in the state. The Program will be funded through an $11 recycling fee collected from consumers when a mattress or box spring is sold beginning Dec. 30, 2015. The Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) is a non-profit organization established by the mattress industry that has been certified by CalRecycle to develop and administer the Program.”
On the surface we like this idea. Mattress recycling has got to be a HUGE issue. Originally, we thought that this fee was not only going to assist in recycling mattresses, but as a side effect it could go a long way to helping to curb the proliferation of used and rebuilt mattresses in the marketplace. But does it really do that? We’re not so sure.
Currently there are many manufacturers that make rebuilt and sanitized mattresses in the California market. We at Dreamland aren’t fans of the rebuilt industry. We’ve all seen trucks of every size and shape laden with used mattresses driving down the street. Chances are excellent that the mattresses on these trucks aren’t heading to recycling centers, rather they are going to companies that “rebuild” these old mattresses to be sold again to the consumer. On average companies pay about $5 per piece for these used mattresses and foundations.
So one might think that with a new “CRV” for mattresses that these trucks full of used mattresses would be encouraged to return these beds to the state appointed recycling centers to redeem the $11 fee much in the way that we recycle aluminum cans. Even if the recycle refund was $7, leaving $4 per mattress and box to fund the operating expenses of the state, it would be much more beneficial to recycle the mattresses rather then taking them to be rebuilt. Kill 2 birds with one stone…promote recycling and reduce the used bedding market…right? Not so much.
If a guy with a truck filled with mattresses and boxes goes to one of the state appointed recycling centers to turn mattresses in…they get zero. No recycle refund of any kind. So what does that mean? That means they will continue to take used mattresses and boxes to companies to be added to the consumer market again. And of course those mattresses don’t get recycled. We suppose it could be argued that having them rebuilt is in a sense recycling. But certainly not in the way the state would or should want it to be.
So now, let’s say a consumer who has paid the recycling fee wants to turn in their mattress themselves and recycle it and recoup the fee, or a portion of the fee, that they have paid at the time of purchase. What do they receive? Again, they get zero. Why would John Q. Public want to hump this old mattress way across town to recycle it? They get not a dime, and they have to do work to get it there. Additionally they are not required to do so. There is nothing in the new legislation that requires mattresses to be recycled.
How about the vendors that sell mattresses? We have to charge the consumer the fee, but even we are not required to recycle mattresses. We are required to pick up used mattresses from the consumer, for a fee, if requested by the consumer to do so. But we do not have to take them to a recycling center.
What do manufacturers need to do? Nothing, nada, zilch, zip…not a thing. Has anything changed in the rebuild industry at all? The answer to that simple question is no.
Some might be inclined to ask, if this is a recycle fee based on recycling, then why on Earth would I have to pay it at the time of purchase like a tax? Why not charge it at the time of recycle? Is it because no one is actually required to recycle?
That, my friends, is a question that we here at Dreamland cannot answer. We are simply to charge the customer and give the money over to the MRC. If you have questions about this, feel free to contact your congressman or senator. I have to be honest…I don’t ever remember voting on this legislation, and believe me, if legislation has the word mattress anywhere near it, I would have seen it!
All in all, does this legislation really address the issue of recycling? Not much from what I’ve seen. But admittedly I haven’t seen it all, so the jury is still out…I just hope that it isn’t a kangaroo court!