Bulky waste

EVERY year more than 8 million mattresses are disposed of in the UK – that’s 167,000 tonnes currently destined for landfill.

A typical mattress is 23 cubic feet (0.65 cubic metres) and on average 6ft in length.

8 million mattresses destined for landfill, is the equivalent of filling Wembley Stadium 5 times over.

8 million mattresses laid end to end, would reach Australia from the UK!

The problem

Historically, disposing of mattresses, carpets and other bulky waste in a proper manner has been a nightmare task for UK’s retailers and Councils. Mattresses are bulky and heavy, making it a very labour intensive job to dismantle and separate the many complex components for recycling.

Approximately 8 million mattresses, are disposed of every year, with the vast majority destined for landfill or placed in storage – creating huge ‘mattress mountains’.

The UK is finally waking up to the problem, estimating more than 480 million mattresses will be heading for landfill, over the next 60 years, unless we can find a workable solution.

Bulky waste is notoriously difficult to recycle. Separating the multiple elements is time consuming, requiring highly physical and potentially dangerous working practices.

Textek is the UK’s most advanced Bulk Waste Processing Facility.

The challenge

Retailers and Local Authorities face two big challenges when recycling mattresses and bulky waste, the first is the separation aspect, the second is finding feasible end markets for the many complex materials to be recycled.

Separation for Recycling
Traditionally, manual separation has been the only effective way to strip a mattress, but this comes with many risks, is time-consuming and expensive.

Pocket-spring-based mattresses in particular offer specific challenges as they contain between 1,000 and 10,000 single springs, each wrapped inside a textile-based polypropylene pocket.

Wearing a mask and ‘cut-proof’ clothing, while using a blade to manually separate a dusty, 33kg mattress, is a tough, demanding job. Recruiting and retaining people to carry out such a task is very difficult, and although an experienced operative can process more than 65 mattresses a day, the sad reality is the mountain of mattresses will continue to grow at an alarming rate.

Textek spent 18 months investigating the use of innovative technology to make the process easier. The result is a bespoke recycling line (click here to see how it works).