Some dumping despite free mattress drop-off program

Warwick Beacon ·

A day doesn’t go by when Larry Ferri isn’t asked, “where do the mattresses go?”

Ferri works at the city’s compost station behind the Mickey Stevens Sports Complex, and ever since the city started participating in a program for the free drop-off of mattresses this spring, there has been a steady stream of cars and trucks hauling mattresses. Those dropping off mattresses must be Warwick residents and can leave no more than two mattresses or a mattress and box spring at a time.

Nonetheless, says Christopher Beneduce, who directs the city’s recycling program, an average of two trailer trucks packed with more than 100 mattresses leave the station every week.

Beneduce said the program has been highly successful. Still, however, some residents learning of the program have the misconception that city crews will now pick up mattresses if left beside the road. That’s not the case. Mattresses must be brought to the collection site at the composting station. Mattresses should be dry.

The city did not pick up mattresses or offer a collection site prior to the program, requiring people to travel to the Rhode Island Resource Recovery in Johnston. The disposal of mattresses at clothing bins was problematic and the source of complaints.

Amanda Wall, marketing and communication coordinator for the Mattress Recycling Council, said in an email that 32 cities and towns now offer collection sites. In addition, recycling contractors working for the council accept drop-offs at their locations in West Warwick and Rumford. The recyclers pay a $2 reimbursement for each mattress or foundation delivered.

“Our mattress collection has exceeded our expectations. In four months we’ve collected approximately 35,000 mattresses,” Wall said.

The genesis to the program dates back to 2013, when the General Assembly – in an effort to deal with the indiscriminate dumping of mattresses – legislated a statewide recycling program. California has a similar program. The program began May 1 and is funded through a $10 recycling fee collected at retail from customers on each mattress and foundation sold in the state. The fees fund the collection and recycling of mattresses and foundations used and discarded in Rhode Island.

The Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), a non-profit organization established by the mattress industry, manages the recycling program known as Bye Bye Mattress. MRC is accountable to the state via Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation.

Wall said the $10 fee that is added to the purchase price of a mattress or foundation pays for collection sites and events that are posted on byebyemattress.com; provides for containers and their transportation to a recycler; assists hospitals, hotels retailers, universities, and property managers with large volume mattress collection and recycling; and provides the $2 incentive for those delivering mattresses to recyclers, Ace Mattress and Express Mattress. The limit is four units per person per day and eight per person per year, she said.

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