Montreal-based MattCanada is a recycling company that Erdem Abdul founded after doing some research on mattress manufacturing and retail markets. Erdem realized the impact discarded mattresses had on the waste stream.
Most people don’t realize how large a problem discarded mattresses really are. If you consider that within the last two years approximately six million Canadians bought a mattress and in the United States a staggering 21 million mattresses were purchased, the enormity of the problem begins to take shape. Most people who purchase a new mattress discard their old one.
Some might think that mattresses pose no problem. After all, they are composed mostly of materials that are recyclable: cotton, wood, metal, and polyurethane foam.
The way 90 per cent of mattresses are manufactured leaves the inside of the mattress hollow. During the mattress’s useful life that’s okay, but once the mattress is discarded, problems evolve. The mattresses are bulky to transport, and use up valuable space in landfills. Moisture and air are trapped inside, a perfect brewing ground for bacteria.
The bulk and sanitation issues are only part of the problem. Springs or coils can jam machinery. Removing a trapped mattress from a large machine has to be done manually and is dangerous. Old or torn mattresses in dry conditions are a fire hazard, even if the mattress is “fire-proof.” Fire-proof mattresses are being manufactured with the idea that fire starts from outside of the mattress, for example by a cigarette. Even if the top fabric of a mattress is fire resistant, the foam inside isn’t.
An average mattress takes about 15 years to deteriorate. So when a landfill accepts mattresses, it’s stuck with them for at least that long. In fact, mattresses are among the most disliked item in waste yards.
When Erdem first opened his small warehouse doors, only two local furniture retailers brought their disposable mattresses to be recycled. Gradually, more companies learned about the services MattCanada offered. The company now over thirty clients from various sectors, not only commercial establishments such as retail chains, manufacturers and hotels but also municipalities, hospitals and private citizens.
The company has expanded its services by accepting a larger variety of items as well as opening new locations. Currently, on top of mattresses and box springs, MattCanada recycles clothing, toys, home appliances and electronics. Some retail chains that sometimes have volumes of various types of defective merchandise choose to use this single option rather than find numerous different recyclers.
Written by Abdul Erdem of MattCanada in Montreal, Quebec. Contact Abdul at firstname.lastname@example.org