Landfill ban diverts 47,000 mattresses

More than 47,000 mattresses or box springs have been recycled this year since January, when Metro Vancouver banned them from being dumped in the garbage.

  • Aug. 25, 2011 2:00 p.m.

Jeff NAGEL and Kevin MILLS

Black Press

More than 47,000 mattresses or box springs have been recycled this year since January, when Metro Vancouver banned them from being dumped in the garbage.

That’s equivalent to a stack taller than Mount Everest – or a pile that could fill B.C. Place – that might otherwise end up in the landfill.

Metro residents – including Abbotsford citizens – now pay a $20 recycling fee if they bring a mattress or box spring to a Metro waste transfer station. The Matsqui transfer station is owned and operated by Metro.

People can usually pay less by going directly to a mattress recycler or by having an old mattress recycled when they buy a new one from a local retailer.

Tracy Kyle, Abbotsford’s director of water and solid waste, said if the mattress is in good shape “we encourage people to contact the MCC or Salvation Army first.”

“Mattresses have long been a problem at transfer stations. They are bulky and the springs get caught,” said Kyle.

Three mattress recycling companies now employ more than 45 people, tearing old beds apart to recover metal, wood, cotton and foam to be processed and re-used.

A Metro spokesman said it’s not yet clear whether the new fee to get rid of mattresses has led more people to dump them illegally.

Surrey did initially experience significantly more illegal dumping of mattresses after the change, according to Gerry McKinnon, the city’s manager of operations.

The city responded with an advertising drive to ensure residents know they can arrange free mattress pickup through the Surrey’s large item pickup program.

Abbotsford did not record an increase in illegal dumping.

For Abbotsford residents, the closest private mattress recycler is more than 40 kilometres away, in Coquitlam.

Local mattress retailers can be found by visiting www.MetroVancouverRecycles.org.