John Lewis addressing troublesome mattress issue with recycling partnership

Retailer John Lewis has teamed up with the The Furniture Recycling Group (TFRG) in an attempt to stop tens of thousands of mattresses being lost to landfill every year.

In the UK, some 167,000 tonnes of mattresses are sent to landfill every year, and the partnership says that it aims to change the way manufacturers and retailers deal with end user customer waste, resulting in the waste stream’s diversion from costly and environmentally damaging landfill.

John Lewis addressing troublesome mattress issue with recycling partnersup
Around 167,000 tonnes of mattresses enter landfill every year in the UK
The question of mattress recycling poses a headache for waste operators, given their bulky nature and subsequent difficulty in transporting them in large numbers. The most recent recycling figures from the National Bed Federation’s (NBF) latest ‘End of Life Mattress Report’ show that between 2014 and 2015, mattress recycling rates fell from 16 per cent to 13 per cent across the UK, while local authorities, which account for 81 per cent of mattress recycling, reported an 11 per cent decrease in their mattress recycling.

Given the importance of mattresses to the range of home products offered by John Lewis, and the difficulty in recycling them, it stands to reason that John Lewis would take this step to help customers to responsibly dispose of their old mattresses.

As part of the partnership, John Lewis is offering a mattress recycling service whenever an order is taken for a new mattress, whereby John Lewis will pick up customers’ old mattresses and take them to one of its distribution hubs before onward transport to TFRG in Blackburn.

There the mattresses are broken down into their constituent parts using TFRG’s new mattress recycling machine, before they are repurposed and refashioned into new mattresses, thus closing the loop on the mattress production chain.

The partnership has already been in action for a year and John Lewis says that in 2016 its recycling service enabled the recycling of around 58,000 mattresses – equating to 1,500 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill.

“Very optimistic” about future of mattress recycling

Speaking about the partnership, Ben Thomas, Sustainability Manager at John Lewis, said: “For our mattress recycling service, we knew we needed to find a partner who would be trustworthy and had a plan for the future. After conducting thorough research into the industry it became clear that Nick Oettinger at The Furniture Recycling Group was the person we wanted to work with.

“In the future we hope to go even further and find new uses for the materials extracted from the mattresses we send to TFRG, to help close the loop on waste. With the help of Nick and his team, we’re very optimistic about the future of mattress recycling.”

Oettinger, Managing Director at TFRG, added: “We’re very proud that John Lewis chose to work with us on this project, and it’s so reassuring to see retailers are now thinking about the end of life scenario for their products. Since launch we have diverted over one million mattresses and 3,500 tonnes of mattress components from landfill, and with John Lewis on board we can look to see these promising figures growing more and more.”

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