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Mattresses Provide A Softer Landing

Date: 24-May-12

Recycled mattresses forming the insides of boxing bags © Jess McCallum

Recycled mattresses forming the insides of boxing bags

Mattresses are a big pain in the landfill. They are hard to compact and take up a relatively large amount of landfill space. So when we were invited to tour Mission Australia's Soft Landing mattress recycling and refurbishment facility in Sydney, we were very keen to check out how they do it.

In Australia

Each year in Australia around 1.25 million mattresses or about 15 million tonnes, end up in landfill taking up on average over 875,000 cubic metres. Just think of the space that 350 Olympic swimming pools would take up! Now think of the wasted materials... An average mattress contains 12.5kg of steel, 2kg of wood and 1.5kg of foam - components Soft Landing separates for recycling, in the process diverting thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill each year.

The Benefits

The steel springs are sold as scrap metal, timber is made into kindling or mulch, foam is sold for use in carpet underlay. They had difficulty in disposing of mattress fabric and felt pads so developed a solution to reuse the treated material as boxing bag fill. This became another social enterprise business employing young people with disabilities.

So you see, it is not just the environmental benefits of landfill diversion and reuse of resources that are being provided here. It is also delivering on Mission Australia's vision to see a fairer Australia by enabling people in need to find pathways to a better life.

Our tour leader told us that a majority of the staff were previously either long-term unemployed, had a learning disability, or had substance abuse problems. Securing employment for them can result in improved economic wellbeing, better social, physical and mental health, and reduced substance abuse and neglect - outcomes that help build a safe, productive community.

Recycling Near You

Reuse is also a goal of the enterprise and with use of an industrial vacuum and sanitisation, some mattresses can be refurbished and sold through Missions Australia's Big-Heart Retail Op-Shops.

So from beds to boxing bags, Soft Landing is giving those in need and the environment a fighting chance. For more information, go to Soft or search for mattress recycling options in your area.

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