What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of My Old Bed?

recycling your mattress, recycling household items, recycling beds

The most recent National Bed Federation’s (NBF) End of Life Mattress Report (2016) showed that 74,000 less mattresses were recycled in 2015 than 2014. Over a similar time period, local authorities also reported that having little access to suitable recycling centres, following their own bulky waste collections and fly-tipping clean ups, meant that having to dispose of waste by landfill rather than recycling resulted in 11% less overall recycling.

So what’s the problem?

One very ironic problem is that many local authorities can’t afford their own dedicated recycling centres as these are too costly to run: yet the cost to local authorities in England of fly-tipping was almost £50 million in 2015/2016! This huge amount largely accounts for clean-up costs alone; the costs of identifying and prosecuting culprits, can bring the total to around £150 million.

Meanwhile, single items, including mattresses which are themselves highly recyclable, accounted for 17% of all fly-tipping incidents between 2014-2016, with the total increasing by 6.2% from 2014/15 to 2015/16. Small van loads, the type of vehicle commonly associated with removal of beds and mattresses accounted for a third of overall fly-tipping incidents.

Now, according to DEFRA’s Digest of Waste and Resource Statistics report of March 2017, 66% – that’s two thirds of households in the UK, remain uncertain of the correct way to dispose of one or more household items. This is despite the fact that householders are under a duty of care to dispose of all household waste responsibly – including unwanted and end of life furniture items.

So how exactly can you get rid of an old bed … without adding to those sad statistics of fly-tipping, or to the load in landfill?

Disposal options available for beds and mattresses:

Retailer removal

Happily, the NBF’s 2016 report did indicate that overall bed retailers are taking much more responsibility for removing and disposing of old beds when delivering new ones – removing and recycling approximately 32,400 (64%) more units in 2015 than in 2014. So, if you’re buying a new bed or mattress it makes sense to enquire first whether the retailer will take away the old one when delivering the new.

If you’re keen to be green though, do ask specifically about disposal methods, as the report did indicate that 60% of smaller retailers (and those larger ones based in areas experiencing a shortage of textile processing and recycling services) are still likely to use less environmentally-friendly methods of disposal, such as landfill and incineration.

Charity donation

Some charities such as Emmaus and the British Heart Foundation run furniture donation schemes, where they will remove your old items free of charge and either pass them to needy families or sell them on at affordable prices.

To donate, your bed and mattress offer must be in a saleable, as well as usable condition, which includes having its UK standard BS7177 fire safety label still attached. The BHF website offers useful advice about requirements for mattress and bed donations, to help you decide if yours is suitable.

Free to collector

If your bed’s not suitable for a charity to sell on but is still in a useable condition, listing it as ‘free to collector’ on Freecycle or Gumtree is another way of having someone come to collect it for you. There’s also still the chance that it will end up going to a good cause, such as a relocated family who cannot afford a new bed.

The advantage of using either charitable donation or free-to-collector methods is that those collecting will bring transport and come into the property to pick up the items. However, whilst BHF and Emmaus offer assurances about using only trusted persons for collections, householders should be advised to be cautious if inviting strangers who have made contact via Freecycle or Gumtree to come into your home for collections.

Recycling centre

Local recycling centres are a good option for environmentally-friendly disposal. The only drawbacks are that you do need transport and the ability to lift your mattress into the transport and out the other end. Sometimes there’s also a significant distance involved because, as mentioned previously, not every local authority offers a dedicated recycling centre.

Council collection

Known as Bulky Item or Bulky Waste collection, most councils in the UK offer a service for picking up and disposing of large household items for homeowners in their local areas.

Costs and collection criteria vary across the UK. For example, Wealden District Council charges £50 for up to 3 items, whilst Barnet Council charges £55 for a single item. Collect Your Old Bed provide a useful at-a-glance council collection costs map which can be used to identify your local bulky waste removal costs.

Private bed collection services

A private bed collection service can be less costly than council collection depending on your area. Using a professional company, such as Collect Your Old Bed, comes with a full assurance of 100% recycling of all bed and mattresses collected: from wood, to steel to textiles, every component is recycled back into various industries, including the furniture industry.

Be sure to approach a reputable company for customer-care assurances which include the reliability and trustworthiness of the team who will come into your home. And beware of unlicensed ‘casual’ waste removers who may be small-van fly-tippers who will not dispose of your bed responsibly, let alone recycle it.

Take a look at the infographic below to see exactly which parts can be recycled and what they can be made into.

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