RI joins in new mattress recycling program

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JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — With more than 50,000 mattresses ending up in landfills every year, Rhode Island is hoping to make sure yours isn’t among them. The Ocean State is only the third state in the country to adopt the “Bye Bye Mattress” recycling program.

Anyone who bought a mattress in Rhode Island since Sunday, May 1, may have noticed an extra recycling fee — $10 — tacked on the invoice. It stems from a 2013 law designed to keep old mattresses out of landfills and off city streets.

The program was spotlighted at an event Tuesday morning at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation landfill and recycling center in Johnston.

“Not only will this program divert mattresses from the landfill, but it will also help curb the illegal dumping that occurs in many communities throughout the state,” said state Senate majority leader Dominick Ruggerio.

The nonprofit Mattress Recycling Council, based in Virginia, was created for the sole purpose of recycling mattresses. Now, they’re administering the program in Rhode Island.

“All you need to do is call your local Public Works, or you can actually visit byebyemattress.com, and you’ll see the list of locations where you can drop them off — most likely in your local community,” said the Resource Recovery Corporation’s Sarah Reeves.

Two companies in Rhode Island are tasked with the recycling. “Those mattresses are transported to a local recycler… [They are] broken down into their component parts, and then recycled back into new consumer products,” said the Mattress Recycling Council’s Mike O’Donnell.

It’s estimated 90 percent of each old mattress can be recycled into carpet padding, rebar, agricultural products — and even mulch.

So far, 31 of Rhode Island’s cities and towns are participating, but more are expected to join in soon. You can always drop a mattress off at the Johnston RIRRC headquarters, but you probably have a solution closer to you.

The new fee on every new mattress sold in the Ocean State funds the recycling program, including containers, transport and processing.

Sen. Ruggerio introduced the legislation that’s now law. “I just think this is a great way to get rid of mattresses and create some job opportunities,” he said.

Rhode Island, Connecticut and California are the first three states in the country to join the mattress recycling program. It’s estimated Rhode Island will recycle 65,000 mattresses every year.

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