Welsh Government funds innovative mattress recycling in South Wales

The Welsh Government and the county of Rhondda Cynon Taf have called on local businesses to come up with innovative new solutions to allow every part of the mattress to be recycled as part of a competition this winter.

Welsh Government funds innovative mattress recycling in South Wales
Rhondda Cynon Taf has had a mattress recycling facility since 2012
The two have joined forces to offer a £350,000 prize to the business that comes up with the winning solution. The funding will be used to support the further development and commercialisation of innovative technologies, processes and business models to take the idea forward.

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council already owns one of only a few machines available in the world that can completely break down a mattress ready for recycling. The machine has the potential to recycle 100,000 mattresses per year – nearly one mattress from every household in Rhondda Cynon Taf. 

The borough’s mattress recycling scheme was launched four years ago, following £400,000 of investment from the Welsh Government’s Regional Capital Access fund, waste contractor Amgen Cymru and the council itself. According to the council, over 300 mattresses are sent to landfill in the area every week and are also the most commonly fly-tipped item. Through its recycling scheme the council aimed to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by 1,300 tonnes.

The Welsh Government is supporting the council’s mattress recycling scheme, with £227,500 in funding to develop plans to use waste heat from an existing Food Waste Treatment Plant to heat water to sterilise the mattress textiles for recycling. This pilot scheme, run through the Small Business Research Initiative, aims to determine the economic benefits of achieving this on a large scale.

The competition is looking in particular for solutions that:

  • shall be capable of recycling at least 75 per cent of the material stream and would not result in landfilling any of the remaining 25 per cent;
  • will make a positive financial contribution to the mattress deconstruction process (i.e. provide a material rebate) of the order of £10 per tonne;
  • will not produce any waste classified as Hazardous;
  • shall be able to demonstrate a lower Carbon Footprint than that which could be reasonably estimated for either landfill disposal or EfW recovery;
  • can be demonstrated at RCT Council’s Bryn Pica Waste Management Facility; and
  • has the potential to utilise waste heat in the range 70 – 90 degrees Celsius.

According to the Welsh Government, the project has the potential to create local jobs, increase recycling, reduce carbon emissions and create economic savings for the local authority.

Applications for the competition must be received by the Welsh Government by 13 January 2017, with shortlisted organisations being interviewed in mid-February.

Mattresses an ‘underdeveloped market’ in UK

Announcing the funding, Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs

Lesley Griffiths said: “If successful, the project will see an increase in market demand for waste mattress textiles, a market which is severely underdeveloped in Wales and the UK.

“Wales is leading the way with recycling in the UK and is well on course to meet its 70 per cent recycling rate by 2025. However, we can always do more and it is through thinking creatively and devising sustainable solutions that we can become the highest recycling nation in Europe.”

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure & Culture, added: “We continually strive to recycle more waste in Rhondda Cynon Taf and reduce the amount being sent to landfill. Our mattress recycling service has proved to a great success, since its launch four years ago, however this competition will mark an important step forward for the scheme and build on the core of our values in Rhondda Cynon Taf to recycle as much as we possibly can.

“Back in 2015 Rhondda Cynon Taf Council was crowned the fastest improving Council in Wales for its recycling efforts by the Welsh Government when it hit over 60 per cent for recycling targets and secured its place in the top 10 for Wales. In 2016 we have once again secured our place in the top 10 by hitting over 61 per cent.

“This latest development showcases how we as a Council are looking at how we can recycle as much as we possibly can and we are encouraging our residents to join us by recycling just one extra item each – together we can hit the 70% target set for 2025.”

More information can be found on the Welsh Government’s Sell2Wales website.

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