Mattress Recycling Levels Reach More Than One Million Pounds for Bedding Retailer

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Mattress Warehouse, Sleep Outfitters and Mattress King keep old mattresses from clogging communities’ landfills.

“It’s exciting to know that we’re leading the mattress industry nationwide with our mattress recycling efforts,” said Innovative Mattress Solutions (iMS) president and CEO Kim Knopf.

Mattress retailers Mattress Warehouse, Sleep Outfitters and Mattress King have recycled more than one million pounds of mattress waste material so far this year. That’s one million pounds of trash that will never arrive at a landfill. Instead, the materials will be used for new and different purposes.

“It’s exciting to know that we’re leading the mattress industry nationwide with our mattress recycling efforts,” said Innovative Mattress Solutions (iMS) president and CEO Kim Knopf. iMS is the parent firm of Mattress Warehouse, Sleep Outfitters and Mattress King.

According to Spring Back Mattress Recycling in Nashville, Tenn., iMS’s partner in the mattress recycling process, iMS stores had shipped Spring Back 14,147 used mattresses and box springs as of Oct. 18, equaling 1,066,260 pounds of recycled mattress waste so far this year.

Discarded mattresses are clogging the nation’s landfills. They are difficult to compact and can take years to decompose. Their steel innersprings tear up landfill equipment, and they can absorb hazardous materials into flammable air pockets, causing landfill fires.

Americans discard 30 million mattresses every year, according to Spring Back Mattress Recycling. Mattress Warehouse, Sleep Outfitters and Mattress King are reducing that number by recycling old mattresses hauled off from customers’ homes after they’ve bought a new mattress set.

“We’re trying to do our part to be an eco-friendly company and keep discarded mattresses out of our communities’ landfills,” said Knopf.

iMS sends about 400 mattresses a week to Spring Back where they are torn apart so the mattress components can be used for other purposes.

Almost all mattress materials can be recycled. Metal springs are sold to steel companies where they are melted down for other uses. Cotton and foam are sold for carpet padding or insulation, and the wood is sold to wood chippers to convert to landscaping mulch.

In a matter of minutes, the Spring Back crew can deconstruct a mattress that can take years to decompose in a landfill.

A single mattress occupies 27 to 60 cubic feet of landfill space and weighs on average 60 pounds. By contrast, a trailer-load of 100 to120 old mattresses measures about 3,400 cubic feet. Once deconstructed, and the usable materials sold to recyclers, that same trailer-load of mattresses becomes a 45-cubic foot bale of waste material ready for disposal.

Spring Back began in Nashville in March 2011, the idea of a group of Belmont University students. The company employs formerly incarcerated men in an effort to help them lead productive lives.

“Spring Back Recycling is an ideal triple bottom line social enterprise, providing an economic, social, and environmental benefit,” said John Gonas, the Belmont professor who serves as an Enactus faculty advisor. “Not only do the men…have access to sustainable employment and small business training, but hundreds of thousands of pounds of solid waste are being diverted from area landfills. More than 98 percent of all mattress and box spring components are recycled, while the program pays for itself. We are very grateful for the partnership with Mattress Warehouse, Sleep Outfitters and Mattress King.”

Innovative Mattress Solutions is headquartered in Winfield, W.Va. It began the Spring Back Mattress Recycling partnership about two years ago when the company acquired the Nashville-based Mattresses Unlimited retail chain. Last year, those stores were renamed Sleep Outfitters. Since then, recycling has been expanded to the company’s stores in Lexington, Ky., Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Oh. and Huntsville and Birmingham, Ala.

iMS is the only mattress retailer supplying Spring Back with used mattresses for recycling. iMS stores charge a $19.99 recycling fee to haul away customers’ old mattresses.

This year Connecticut, Rhode Island and California became the first states to pass legislation mandating that discarded mattresses be recycled. In all three states, the legislation provides for the establishment of a non-profit organization to implement, administer and manage a mattress recycling program.

Mattress Warehouse, Sleep Outfitters and Mattress King are among the first mattress retailers to seize this green initiative to recycle old mattresses for new non-mattress related uses, and to keep them from clogging their communities’ landfills.

About Innovative Mattress Solutions
Innovative Mattress Solutions is headquartered in Winfield, W.Va. Owner Kim Knopf founded the company in 1983 with a single Mattress Warehouse brand store in South Charleston, W.Va. Today, iMS operates 150 Mattress Warehouse, Mattress King and Sleep Outfitters stores in six states: West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. Earlier this year, Furniture/Today magazine listed iMS as the country’s eighth largest bedding retailer.

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