Fostering Innovation in Mattress Recycling
We invest in research to identify new end markets, increase recycling rates, improve the efficiency of used mattress collection and help contracted recyclers increase profitability by identifying mattress dismantling and recycling best practices.
Investing in Research and Funding Improvements
We invest $1 million annually to incubate creativity, develop new uses for recycled mattress components, advance recyclability and fund infrastructure improvements at collection sites. Click below to view completed research reports, improvement projects and announcements for new research projects.
Making a Difference
We are leading the way to investigate innovative new end uses for recycled mattress components in partnership with innovators and researchers. Examples include:
Foundation Wood Market Analysis
Published in January 2022, this white paper explores potential markets for foundation wood including particle board, medium density fiberboard, pellets, fire logs, pallets, animal bedding and oriented strand board. MRC is further investigating the feasibility of certain applications through pilot studies
Life Cycle Analysis
In 2021, MRC commissioned a mattress type counting and a composition study as the initial steps in conducting a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). This LCA will quantify the positive and negative environmental impacts of the California program. This analysis will evaluate each component of our supply chain including mattress collection, transportation, dismantling and component recycling and will create a baseline for measuring future improvement. The counts and composition reports were delivered in December 2021. The survey of a California recycler found that queen-size mattresses were the most frequently recycled. And, Bonnell springs and pocket coil springs together compose 54% of all mattress types in the survey.
Upcycled Mattress Foam
In a pair of 18-month studies at UCLA, researchers found that chemically recycled polyurethane mattress foam can be used to make stronger concrete with less energy consumption than traditional concrete production methods and that used polyurethane mattress foam can be used to make new foam products. The results of these MRC-funded studies were released in December 2021.
Waste Characterization Study
MRC commissioned a waste characterization study of the residual material generated California mattress recyclers to quantify what mattress components are landfilled. The August 2021 report found the top three most prevalent waste categories as a percentage of total waste are shoddy felt pad (22.0%), mixed non-woven fibers (19.8%) and quilt panels (17.3%).
Pocketed Coil Recycling
MRC has completed a sponsored research project with Wisconsin-based Knoble Design LLC to explore a novel approach for recycling pocketed coils, resulting in the successful construction of a small-scale machine demonstrating the approach. Project findings are detailed in a final October 2020 non-confidential report and demonstration video.
Converting Mattress Components
Into Battery Anode Materials
In February 2020, MRC awarded a research contract to Pittsburg State University’s Kansas Polymer Research Center to chemically modify and evaluate a variety of recycled mattress materials including polyurethane foam, polyester, cotton and coconut fiber to determine if any are suitable for use as battery and supercapacitor components.