From your bedroom to a life lost in the landfill cemetery, why recycling back into a circular economy matters

Mattresses take time to decompose

Not many of us know this, but on average a mattress takes 100 years to decompose.  It will be foolish to assume it’s not just passively sitting there. Even without moving an inch, mattresses will be affecting the environment and the world around it in a variety of negative ways.

Limited space

A fundamental problem of mattresses is occupying valuable square footage of land by their sheer size compared to other everyday waste.  When this is equated to cubic feet, an average mattress takes a humongous 23 cubic feet.  Land space is scarce and needs to be shared by people, habitat, wildlife as well as allowing nature to flourish.  The avoidance of mattresses being dumped into our valuable earth is vital to allow earth’s landscape to function and flourish naturally the way its always been.

Affect on the atmosphere

As well as actual space taken up, mattresses have a direct impact above ground too. Harmful chemicals are released into the atmosphere, potentially including ozone depleters or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such substances very often form key components of chemical flame retardants and insect repellents used to treat lower-quality mattresses like those manufactured from polyurethane foam, cotton or synthetic latex. When mattresses are thrown into landfills, exposure of such chemicals to the outside air starts for the first time in a mattress’ lifespan. These substances are called “volatile” as they turn from solid or liquid form into a gas at very low temperatures – which are easily reached under the heat of the sun. Once “off-gassed” into the atmosphere, these chemicals are at liberty to attack helpful substances such as ozone high above Earth’s surface.

Affect on soil and water

During its lengthy prolonged decomposing process, small particles of the mattress will eventually be transferred into the surrounding soil and groundwater.  This groundwater can dangerously make its way into rivers, lakes and even the ocean. With the earth’s water systems already in a very heavily polluted state, decomposing mattresses are only compounding the problem.

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