Californians can recycle old mattresses for free. Here’s how

Purchasing a new mattress can lead to a better night’s sleep and ease one’s recurring back and neck pain. But what to do with your old, used and unneeded mattress is its own type of pain in the you-know-what.

This Earth Day, California officials are reminding residents about a free program that allows them get rid of their old mattresses for recycling, rather than having them end up in landfills or illegally dumped on the street corner.

Officials say as much as 75% of a used mattress can be recycled and used in other products like carpet padding, insulation, rebar and landscaping mulch.

Californians have several options for recycling old mattresses and box springs at no cost through the Mattress Recycle Council’s Bye Bye Mattress program. The Mattress Recycle Council is a nonprofit organization tasked by the state of California to handle and coordinate mattress recycling.

Several mattresses and box springs are shown dumped illegally in a field in this undated photo. (Getty Images)
Several mattresses and box springs are shown dumped illegally in a field in this undated photo. (Getty Images)

Here’s what to do with an old mattress if you’re a California resident:

  • Retailer Take Back: California law requires any retailer that offers delivery on a purchased mattress or box spring to also offer to take away an old one at no additional cost. This applies to online purchases too.

  • Drop-off Locations: There are more than 230 free-of-charge locations across California where residents can drop off an unwanted mattress or box spring.

  • Curbside Collection: The Bye Bye Mattress program receives mattresses from solid waste collectors that pick up bulky items at the curb. Participating collectors are listed in an online directory.

    • Not all solid waste collectors participate in the program, but many still offer at least one free large item pickup per year.

Those utilizing retailer take back are urged to coordinate with their mattress supplier prior to delivery.

Drop-off locations and the Curbside Collection directory can be found online.

The Mattress Recycling Council has collected more than 11 million unwanted mattresses for recycling since the program began in the state in 2016. Last year, more than 99% of Californians had access to the program and nearly 80% of all discarded mattresses were saved from landfills, according to CalRecycle.

The Bye Bye Mattress program is also available in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

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