Recycling scheme celebrates saving 200,000 mattresses from the landfill

A specialist recycling scheme by the North London Waste Authority has stopped 200,000 mattresses since 2021 from ending up in a landfill

Credit: Portafolio Celiafoto via Canva

A specialist recycling scheme has celebrated saving 200,000 mattresses from going to the landfill.

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) scheme, launched in 2021, sees mattresses sent to a recycling facility in London where they are deconstructed into their component materials. With up to 17 different materials making up a single mattress, each can be used for different purposes; for example, inner springs are melted down and remade into new metal products, while synthetic layers such as foam are used to make items like carpet underlay.

NLWA says around 90% of the mattress materials will get recycled, with any remaining non-recyclable material going to energy from waste.  

Laid end-to-end, the 200,000 mattresses rescued by NLWA so far would stretch for 248 miles – enough to travel to the edge of space and back again, twice.

NLWA chair Clyde Loakes, who is also deputy leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “Ever since we first kicked off the mattress recycling scheme in 2021, we’ve seen great take-up from residents.

“North Londoners care about looking after their environment, so they appreciate the opportunity to save these mattresses from being thrown away or fly-tipped.” 

In the UK seven million mattresses are thrown away every year, making it a major waste stream and risk to the environment. A double mattress has a carbon footprint of 79kg, and most end up being thrown away within seven years. The 200,000 mattresses recycled through the NLWA scheme add up to more than 4,600 tonnes.

“Many Brits might not realise how much can be recycled from a mattress, but the growth of our scheme shows we’re raising that awareness,” said Cllr Loakes.

“We encourage residents to bring their old mattresses to our reuse and recycling centres, check for council pick-up services, or ask the manufacturer if they have responsible disposal schemes.”