PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – When Peter Crandall bought a new mattress, his receipt surprised him.
“I didn’t look at the invoice until I got home, and I saw that I was charged $48 for future disposal,” Crandall recalled. “I did not turn in a mattress. I didn’t give them one to take when they delivered the original mattress. I kept the mattress that I had.”
Rhode Island state law requires retailers to collect a recycling fee on every mattress and box spring that’s sold. When the law went into effect in 2016, the fee was set at $10. Last year it was raised to $16.
The Mattress Recycling Council administers Rhode Island’s mattress recycling program, ‘Bye Bye Mattress.’ Spokesperson Amanda Wall says the fee is necessary to cover recycling costs.
“At some point that mattress that he just bought is going to be disposed of in some way,” Wall explained. “This fee is providing for the collection containers, transporting those containers to recyclers, paying for the recycling.
Wall refused to say how much money has been collected since the program launched, but said more than 89,200 mattresses were collected in Rhode Island in the program’s first year.
Before the program launched, the state expected to recycle about 65,000 mattresses annually.
“We’re actually surpassing many of our goals for the state program,” she said. “Our second year of data is still coming in but we’re looking to be right on pace with last year.”
Wall also said the program is reducing illegal dumping and issues at landfills.
“Mattresses can be problematic for landfills,” Wall added. “They can cause machinery to become dysfunctional because the springs get lodged in them. They’re difficult to compact because by nature you want your mattress to be durable.”
Crandall says he supports recycling but believes the law isn’t fair. He said he’d rather pay to get rid of the mattress when he’s actually ready to recycle it.
“I don’t see how they could have passed a bill like that!” he told Target 12. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Rhode Island is one of three states to participate in the ‘Bye Bye Mattress’ program, along with Connecticut and California.
According to the R.I. Division of Taxation, the mattress fee is subject to Rhode Island sales tax.