MRC-Financed Pilot in Berkeley Cut Illegally Dumped Mattresses by 32%

The number of illegally dumped mattresses in Berkeley fell by 32 percent, after instituting an illegal dumping pilot study funded by MRC. And, even more impressive, the number of mattresses abandoned on the streets by departing University of California students dropped by 55 percent.

Berkeley revamped a curbside pick-up program and stepped up an educational outreach to curb the number of illegally dumped mattresses single family and multifamily complexes and on the streets. In the 12 months prior to implementing the program, March 2020-2021, the city and CalTrans collected 1,494 illegally dumped mattresses. After instituting the changes, there were 998 illegally dumped mattresses collected – a drop of 32 percent.

Prior to the start of the program, the city estimated that with the curbside collection changes it might collect about 800 mattresses. Instead, it collected 1,334.

Previously, Berkeley had one free curbside bulky item collection per year for residents living in 1-4 unit apartment buildings. Now, the city separates curbside mattress pickups from its bulky pickup program. It will now collect mattresses twice a year, only if scheduled. And Thursday is now the mattress collection day. The program was extended to apartments up to 9 units, which includes most residences in the city.

The off-campus student community was targeted with two program-financed mailers plus coordinated messages from the university staff to students and property owners. The outreach was targeted during the annual spring move-out period. The number of illegally dumped mattresses during this period dropped from 457 to 208.

MRC provided $100,000 to Berkeley through its Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative. The pilot program costs about $129,000 with the labor costs of the collections and managing the program costing more than $113,500.  Due to its success, the city plans to continue the program with its own funding on an ongoing basis.

Berkeley Final Report to MRC

Berkeley Presentation to 2022 Illegal Dumping Conference