If you sell beds in the Golden State, here’s how to be sure you are complying with the mattress recycling law
The Mattress Recycling Council’s statewide mattress recycling programs, known to retailers and consumers as Bye Bye Mattress, have operated in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island for more than five years, leading to more than 8 million mattresses recycled and more than 150 million tons of materials diverted from landfills and incineration.
Each of these states passed laws that require retailers and other mattress sellers to collect a recycling fee when mattresses and foundations are sold to consumers in their states. Those entities then transfer those fees to MRC. Retailer compliance is vital to the success of the recycling efforts.
MRC has developed protocols and increased capabilities to monitor how retailers are fulfilling their legal obligations with each state law, but enforcement falls to state regulators.
California’s approach to enforcement is unique. An enforcement team from California’s Department of Resource Recycling and Recovery (also called CalRecycle) carries out random inspections of retailers and other entities that have an obligation to collect fees. If CalRecycle finds a retailer in violation of the California law, known as the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act, its actions escalate from issuing warnings to levying fines and penalties and, eventually, to an administrative court hearing.
“MRC applauds the work of the CalRecycle enforcement team for their efforts to drive compliance and create a level playing field for all mattress retailers,” says Mike O’Donnell, managing director of MRC. “California has a successful mattress recycling program due to the collaborative relationships we have built with CalRecycle and other stakeholders.”
Under California law, mattress manufacturers, distributors and renovators that sell in California must register with MRC.
If you sell or offer for sale products in California that fit the law’s definition of mattress (which includes futon mattresses) or foundation, you must:
O Register your company with MRC at MRCReporting.org
O Report sales of these products to MRC each month
O Collect the recycling fee on each sale of a mattress or foundation and remit the fee to MRC monthly
O Offer no-charge take back of your customer’s used mattress, futon mattress and/or foundation when you deliver the sold mattress, futon and/or foundation. The take-back requirement applies to both brick-and-mortar retailers and e-tailers. (For more details about the take-back requirement, visit MattressRecyclingCouncil.org/Retailer-Take-Back.)
O Monitor CalRecycle’s site for registered manufacturers, distributors, renovators and brands. Under California law, retailers may sell mattresses or foundations only obtained from registered manufacturers, distributors or renovators.
CalRecycle conducts unannounced inspections of mattress retailers, manufacturers and renovators that sell mattresses to consumers in California. CalRecycle inspectors make in-person visits to companies with brick-and-mortar locations in the state and contact online and out-of-state retailers, renovators and manufacturers that sell to California customers by email, according to Jennifer DeFreece, MRC revenue and customer relations manager.
MRC offers the following guidance to help you prepare for such an inspection.
What do you need to provide if inspected?
For an in-person inspection, CalRecycle likely will require its inspectors to access your facilities and relevant records, DeFreece says. If the records are not readily available, CalRecycle will schedule a subsequent date for the inspection. If you are an online retailer or an out-of-state retailer selling to California consumers, you’ll be asked to provide the necessary verifying information by fax or email within 15 days.
According to CalRecycle, inspectors will request:
O Proof you are registered with MRC. This is the verification letter MRC sends a retailer when it approves the registration. If you need a copy, contact email@example.com.
O A copy of payment submission confirmation from MRC’s registration and reporting portal (MRCReporting.org). The most current confirmation will support the fees that you have most recently remitted to MRC, DeFreece says. An inspector may request records for additional submissions, too.
O Mattress sales receipts. The inspector will verify that the mattress recycle fee is a visible line item on your receipts and that the correct fee amount (currently $10.50) is shown, DeFreece says. The inspector may request historical sales records prior to the inspection. If this is required, CalRecyle says the inspector will work with you to set a reasonable time in which to submit the records.
O Verification that you meet the used mattress take-back requirements and provide take back for no charge.
O Verification that you have used and monitor CalRecycle’s website to confirm that manufacturers, distributors and renovators supplying the mattresses that you offer for sale comply with the state’s law (that is, that they are registered with MRC). The current listings of compliant manufacturers, distributors and renovators are posted at CalRecycle.ca.gov/Mattresses/Compliance.
“Having all the information that CalRecycle will request readily available will assist the inspector in completing the inspection. For in-person inspections, please instruct your sales associates on what information is required and how to retrieve the information or who to contact when an inspector arrives,” DeFreece says.
How can MRC assist if you are inspected?
MRC is available to assist those who are required to comply with the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act to register, remit and report through its registration and reporting portal (MRCReporting.org). If proof of registration or any additional information is required, you can contact MRC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-646-6815.
What are potential penalties?
Failure to comply with the requirements of the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act and/or submitting false or misleading information may result in penalties of as much as $5,000 per day per violation.
For more information
For questions about registering with MRC, reporting, fee remittance or other compliance issues, contact MRC at email@example.com or 888-646-6815. For more information or other questions about mattress recycling in California, visit MattressRecyclingCouncil.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-229-1691.
CalRecycle mattress enforcement can be reached at email@example.com.
Recycling Mattresses, One by One, Adds Up to Big Successes
Through its programs, the Mattress Recycling Council recycles more than 1.7 million mattresses a year. MRC operates in three states that have mandated industry-led statewide mattress recycling programs. Here are state-by-state highlights of their impact that you can share with customers to explain the industry’s efforts.
Five years of consistent growth and expansion have led to more than 7 million mattresses being recycled in the Golden State. According to the most recent data, MRC recycled more than 1.5 million mattresses in 2020, which diverted 32,400 tons of recyclable materials from landfills.
The program’s recyclers achieved a 77.1% recycling rate — the highest in the program’s history and an improvement of more than 6 percentage points from the previous year. MRC also has focused on expanding access to mattress recycling in rural and other underserviced areas by adding collection sites and bulky item collection programs in these areas. Overall, 98.6% of Californians had access to MRC’s no-cost collection sites or events in 2020, up from 94.8% in 2019. Additionally, mattress retailers provide no-cost take back of an old mattress to any consumer who has a new mattress delivered anywhere in the state.
Since its start six years ago, MRC’s program in Connecticut has recycled more than 1 million mattresses, diverting more than 18,000 tons of steel, foam, fibers and wood from landfills and incineration. In 2020, MRC increased the number of mattresses collected in Connecticut to 213,540, up 12% from 2019, and recycled 3,813 tons of materials.
During the past five years, MRC’s program in Rhode Island has recycled more than 500,000 mattresses, diverting more than 8,000 tons of steel, foam, fibers and wood from the state’s central landfill.
Since its 2016 launch in the state, MRC has recruited municipal transfer stations, waste haulers, nonprofit organizations, mattress retailers, hotels, universities and hospitals to divert their discarded mattresses for recycling. Currently, 37 Rhode Island municipalities and more than 200 Rhode Island-based public and private entities participate in the program.
For more information
To learn more about the MRC’s efforts to increase mattress recycling, visit MattressRecyclingCouncil.org. Check the Program States section to read the most recent annual reports for these three states.
Get Your QuestionsAbout California’s Take-Back Answered
All retailers that deliver a new mattress to a consumer in California must offer to pick up the customer’s used mattress at no additional cost. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, this requirement also applies to mattresses sold through online sales. The Mattress Recycling Council provides an FAQ and 30-minute webinar to explain the requirements and answer common questions. MRC also offers a list of third-party contractors and transporters that may be able to assist you with meeting take-back obligations. You can find these resources at MattressRecyclingCouncil.org/Retailer-Take-Back.
Commercial Volume Program Takes a Load Off Retailers
The Mattress Recycling Council’s Commercial Volume Program assists retailers with recycling used mattresses picked up when they deliver new beds to consumers in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
An operations manager at Jordan’s Furniture, one of the early participants in the program in Connecticut, calls it a “fantastic program.” “Many times, our customers will return their used bedding when they purchase a new mattress. This means that several hundred mattresses and foundations are returned to our Jordan’s facilities daily,” Steve Padenski says. “The CVP provided a much-needed, consistent and reliable outlet to recycle this bedding.”
In California, mattress retailers may drop off collected units at participating recyclers or designated commercial drop-off sites. MRC also will pick up mattresses from California retailers with at least 100 units to recycle. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, retailers can contact MRC to arrange to drop off used units at a participating recycling facility. MRC also will pick up mattresses from Connecticut and Rhode Island retailers with at least 50 units to recycle. For details about the Commercial Volume Program, visit ByeByeMattress.com/Programs-by-State/Commercial-Recycling.
Show Your Badge
If you sell mattresses in California, Connecticut or Rhode Island, you can help to educate consumers about the Bye Bye Mattress recycling program and the purpose of the recycling fee by displaying the program’s digital badge on your website for consumers to see while they research and shop for mattresses — and before they start the checkout process. Simply link the badge to ByeByeMattress.com. To request the digital badge, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie A. Palm has covered the mattress and home furnishings industries for more than 25 years, and is a past editor in chief of both BedTimes and Sleep Savvy magazines. As chief wordsmith at Palm Ink LLC, she specializes in writing, editing, publications management and communications consulting for a variety of clients. She can be reached at email@example.com.