For Immediate Release - November 15, 2016

MassDEP Marks 'America Recycles Day'

Celebrates Event By Announcing 10,000 Mattresses Recycled Across the Commonwealth This Year

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) marked America Recycles Day 2016 by announcing that the Commonwealth's new mattress recycling grant program has recycled 10,000 mattresses since the program's inception in early 2016.

"I'm happy to mark America Recycles Day by focusing on the success of our innovative Mattress Recycling Initiative," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "Massachusetts is at the forefront of efforts to develop markets for difficult-to-recycle materials such as mattresses. The mattress incentive is contributing to solid waste diversion, local recycling market development and economic growth in the Commonwealth."

The Mattress Recycling Incentive is part of the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, which provides funding to Massachusetts cities and towns for recycling, composting, reuse and source reduction activities that increase diversion of municipal solid waste and household hazardous waste from disposal.

Thirty-two municipalities that were awarded grants last fall have implemented programs this year to recycle mattresses that would otherwise be disposed of as trash. The grant pays for the transportation of mattresses and box springs to a recycling facility and the cost to break them down into component parts to recycle the wood, metal, foam and fabric-covering. Approximately 85 percent of each mattress and box spring is recycled. Municipalities can participate in the mattress recycling program for up to two years.   

Used mattresses and box springs can represent a significant management cost for municipalities because, when disposed, they take up a lot of space in landfills, are hard to compact, and can get caught in incinerator processing equipment. For those reasons, many landfills and waste combustion facilities assess an additional fee for these items beyond the typical tonnage disposal fee. The 10,000 pieces recycled thus far through the Mattress Recycling Initiative represent a significant savings for municipalities, as well as approximately 325 tons diverted from the solid waste stream.

In addition to the environmental benefit of recycling these mattresses, the grant program is contributing to the development of a recycling economy in the areas where the program's vendors work.

The mattresses collected through the Mattress Recycling Initiative (MRI) are recycled by three vendors: United Teen Equality Center in Lowell; Raw Material Recovery Corp. in Gardner; and Ace Mattress Enterprises in Warwick, R.I.

"The grant program has enabled our organization to expand our recycling operation and to increase our staff by hiring new employees locally," said Dick Peloquin, CEO of the Raw Material Recovery Corp., of the MRI.

The United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) in Lowell provides workforce training and alternative education to proven-risk youth through a number of programs, including their mattress recycling program.

"UTEC is thrilled with the response we have seen from the different municipalities," said UTEC Chief Innovation Officer Ed Frechette about the MRI. "Not only is it great to divert these mattresses away from the waste stream, but it also provides our young adults with a great workforce training opportunity."

Just last week, MassDEP awarded an additional $352,000 in Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) funding to 11 communities across the state to help them start their own mattress recycling operation, and the agency will continue to make the program available in 2017. Municipalities that are interested in implementing mattress recycling programs will be eligible to apply for the next grant round beginning in April of 2017; the application deadline is June 14, 2017. More information about mattress recycling can be found here on the MassDEP website.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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