Three Million Mattresses Recycled in California

The Mattress Recycling Council’s (MRC) Bye Bye Mattress Program (Program) announced today it has recycled more than 3 million mattresses in California since its inception in 2016. The Program offers no-cost, environmentally friendly alternatives to Californians disposing of old mattresses through local collection sites, public events and collaborations with local retailers and solid waste providers.

“Reaching this milestone in less than three years of operation is a significant achievement,” said MRC’s Managing Director Mike O’Donnell. “We share the Program’s success with our dedicated contractors and participating collection sites across California. We also have continued support from elected officials that voted for this law in 2013.”

More than 80 percent of mattresses can be recycled and turned into new consumer and industrial products. For example, old mattress foam is recycled into carpet padding, mattress springs are sold as scrap steel, which is melted to make building materials and other steel products, and wood from box springs is chipped and used as landscape mulch. More about the mattress recycling process can be found here.

“The MRC Program is one of the most effective Product Stewardship Programs Butte County is associated with,” said Steve Rodowick, recycling coordinator with Butte County. “This program saves us money, manpower and above all, valuable landfill space.”

A recycling fee collected when consumers buy mattresses and box springs in California funds the Program. MRC uses the fee to establish free drop-off locations and collection events throughout the state. Collected mattresses are then transported from these sites to regional recyclers that dismantle and recycle mattress components. Consumers may take their old mattresses to more than 230 drop-off locations and collection events throughout California. The Program also recycles mattresses collected by retailers, hotels, universities and other sources that discard mattresses in large volumes.

“Our work with the Mattress Recycling Council fulfills our mission to provide youth in San Joaquin and Tuolumne counties with an opportunity to develop work skills and preserve California’s environment,” said Deborah Phillips with the Greater Valley Conservation Corps, a San Joaquin Office of Education program. “In less than a year, Greater Valley Conservation Corps crew members have helped recycle more than two thousand mattresses, while also gaining the experience they need to move into green sector careers.”

In addition to recycling, the Program works to prevent illegal dumping, which includes the Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative. By working with local communities, this $1 million initiative has helped remove more than 63,000 improperly disposed-of mattresses from alleys, sidewalks and other public spaces throughout California since 2016.

“The Bye Bye Mattress Program exemplifies California’s leadership in a sustainable and circular economy by creating green jobs,” said O’Donnell. “After less than three years, we’ve made progress toward reducing our environmental footprint, conserving landfill space and supporting California’s statewide recycling goals.”

California’s Illegally Dumped Mattress Initiative

As part of California’s law, MRC developed the Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative to identify where mattresses are illegally dumped in the state, and proactively address the issue in affected communities. One component of this strategy includes financial compensation to entities responsible for collecting illegally dumped mattresses in their communities.

Entities responsible for collection of illegally dumped mattresses from public rights-of-way can register to receive compensation in exchange for data identifying the location of dumping activities. These entities include California local governments, certain participating permitted solid waste facilities and authorized solid waste operations. It is important to note that units collected through bulky item and curbside mattress pick-up services are not eligible for reimbursement because those units are not illegally dumped.

Registered collectors of illegally dumped mattresses will be paid up to $15.00 per unit for data specific to illegal mattress dumping. The actual per unit rate is calculated at the close of a calendar year by dividing the total funded amount, by the number of illegally dumped units collected and reported in 2018.

If your organization is eligible to participate, please register! Contact Mark Patti, MRC’s Southern California Program Coordinator.

Preparing for CalReycle Inspections

Attention all California mattress retailers, manufacturers and renovators – be prepared for your unannounced inspections from CalRecycle, the state agency with regulatory oversight for MRC’s California program.

Why am I Being Inspected?

CalRecycle provides inspections and enforcement provisions under the mattress recycling law. Its staff conduct inspections to enforce a level playing field and to verify that all parties are in compliance with the law.

Inspection Focus Areas

Inspections are conducted randomly throughout California. During an inspection, you will be asked to show proof of registration with MRC, proof of fee collection, awareness of manufacturer/brand compliance and website brand monitoring, and that you are offering no-cost used mattress take back when delivering new mattresses.

Consult’s Account Guidelines for how to retrieve requested information or contact

After The Inspection

After the inspection, CalRecycle will send a follow-up report. If any violations are found, they can impose penalties of up to $5,000 per day.

Contact the CalRecycle enforcement team

San Jose Uses MRC’s California Initiative to Fund RAPID Response to Illegal Dumping

Several years ago, the City of San Jose enlisted a consultant to help them understand the extent of illegal dumping throughout their communities. After finding substantial increases in the number of incidents and amount of material, the Environmental Services Department created the RAPID (Removing and Preventing Illegal Dumping) team. San Jose uses the payments received through MRC’s California Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative to partially fund it. This enables RAPID to focus on completing clean up assignments and implementing preventative measures. Between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, RAPID cleaned over 14,000 illegal dump sites in San Jose.

RAPID was created in July 2016 with four team members, and four more people were added to the crew in July 2017. RAPID consolidates illegal dumping information received by other City departments and streamlines how residents inform the City of an incident. Prior to its implementation, each department responded independently. This made reporting illegal dumping confusing for residents. Now there is a unified response – call, go online, or use the My San Jose app.

Joining Mattress Recycling Council’s Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative came naturally, since the City’s Environmental Services Department already collects illegal dumping data. Through their participation in MRC’s initiative, they can partially fund the RAPID team.

“Being part of this program has helped San Jose because mattresses are being recycled and the compensation goes back to those who are out there cleaning up our community,” said Anna Szabo, Enforcement & Regulations Supervisor with San Jose’s Integrated Waste Management Division.

Anna and her team collect critical data such as the type of debris, where it was dumped, when an assignment was received and when it was completed in a database. This has helped the City to identify illegal dumping hot spots and proactively monitor them, and develop new outreach tactics. It also makes reporting their mattress data to MRC simple. A spreadsheet is copied and pasted each month, and in 2017 San Jose reported over 4,300 illegally dumped mattresses to the MRC.

“I would encourage other jurisdictions to track as much data as possible, since it can be used to inform program and outreach decisions,” said Anna.

If you would like to join California’s Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative, contact Mark Patti.