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Mattress industry looks to close loop with new Circular Economy Committee

The National Bed Federation (NBF), a trade body representing British and Irish bed manufacturers and suppliers, has brought together industry representatives to form a committee on eliminating the use of landfill with hopes of building a circular economy for the UK’s mattress and bed sector.

Mattress industry looks to close loop with new Circular Economy Committee
The new Circular Economy Committee - comprising of representatives from bed manufacturers, spring manufacturers, and foam/fillings and textile suppliers - has been tasked with carrying forward the NBF’s aims to improve the disposals and recycling of mattresses, divans, bases, beds and headboards through investigating reuse schemes to help bring circularity to the mattress supply chain and reviewing standards such as the BS1425 (Cleanliness of fillings) standard to ensure they are fit for the 21st century.

The creation of the committee chimes with the NBF’s desire to set ambitious new recycling targets and implement a viable national recycling scheme, with a potential Extended Producer Responsibility aspect, at its 2018 Spring Forum.

And it seems the new committee has got its work cut out: the NBF’s End of Life Mattress Report 2016, using local authority data and the open-source WasteDataFlow (WDF) database, found that, in 2015, less than 15 per cent of mattresses were recycled, with 75 per cent going to landfill.

The report also revealed a five per cent (45,000 mattresses) decrease in the amount of mattresses recycled in 2015 compared to 2014, with an 11 per cent decrease in the amount of mattresses recycled by local authorities, which oversee 80 per cent of mattress recycling in the UK.

The authors attributed the decreases to tighter council budgets, higher mattress sales leading to more units being disposed of, as well as the closure of four recycling centres nationwide, which has reduced capacity.

With cash-strapped councils in England struggling to maintain their recycling rates, mattress recycling solutions are increasingly coming from the industry itself. The NBF has worked with the Textile Recycling Association to set up an independently audited register of approved mattress recyclers, due to be launched early next year, with the goal of finding alternatives to landfill disposal.

Furthermore, retail giant John Lewis teamed up with The Furniture Recycling Group (TFRG) in May to offer a mattress recycling service to its customers, picking up their old mattresses upon delivery of a new one and transporting them to the TFRG site in Blackburn.

Commenting on the creation of the new committee, Tony Lisanti, Group Chief Executive of Airsprung and Committee Chairman, said: "We recognise that the industry has a moral and ethical duty to help find and promote solutions which will reduce and ultimately eliminate landfill disposal. Through education and best practice advice, the industry will be encouraged to move towards greater resource efficiency and embrace the principles of the circular economy.

“It's early days yet, but we have a highly experienced and engaged group of volunteers on this committee and I'm sure we shall see some exciting progress in the coming months." 

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