Principals: Eric Castro and Pascal Cohen
Mission statement: “Recyc-Mattresses’ commitment is to help protect the environment.”
Fees: Fees vary depending on the contract, but they average about $10 per piece
Facilities: Eight locations in Ontario and Quebec, Canada; Connecticut, Florida and Washington, D.C.; and Paris. A new facility is opening in Belgium.
Opportunities in Connecticut: Recyc-Mattresses opened a 30,000-square-foot facility in Bloomfield, Connecticut, near Hartford, in May 2012. The company was aware that the state was considering mattress-recycling legislation and saw opportunities to expand its business there. The company will likely be one of two companies contracted by the Mattress Recycling Council to recycle mattresses in the state beginning in 2015.
Employees: The Connecticut facility employs about 10 people, but expects that number to grow to 35 to 40 when the state-mandated recycling program ramps up. The company seeks to provide employment opportunities to individuals with criminal histories, past drug problems or similar issues that make it difficult to find work. About 80% of its workforce falls into these categories, says Recyc-Mattresses President Pascal Cohen.
Dismantling methods: To improve efficiency and reduce processing costs, Recyc-Mattresses uses several pieces of patented, proprietary machinery to break down mattresses into their components. “It’s becoming more and more automated, but there will always be a manual aspect to it,” Cohen says. The company can find markets for as much as 95% of components if the mattresses and foundations are coming directly from retailers or about 90% if they are from the waste stream and therefore, more likely to be dirty, wet or moldy, Cohen says.
What’s ahead: Beginning in early 2015, Cohen expects its business in Connecticut to grow by 2% to 3% a month for the next two to three years as the state’s recycling program picks up steam, but acknowledges that “no one knows exactly what will happen.”
For more information: Visit www.recyc-matelas.com
Dream Green Recycling
Locations: Corsicana, Texas, and Gainesville, Georgia
History: Sleep Inc., a branded division of Corsicana Bedding, launched Dream Green Recycling in a dedicated facility adjacent to Corsicana Bedding’s headquarters. Steve Cavender, who manages the program, has been inspired by the founders’ passion for the value of recycling mattresses. “The executives saw an extreme need for the industry to get involved with recycling mattresses before it became a regulatory burden, and just really made it happen. They did the legwork and took the risks necessary to get it going and have never taken their eyes off the ball.”
Fees: None. Dream Green provides recycling services at no charge to select retailers who carry Corsicana and Sleep Inc. products, as well as to their hospitality customers. The company also accepts used bedding from its retail customers that is picked up when delivering new mattresses made by competitors. “This is something we provide as a service to our retail customers,” Cavender says, “from our small mom-and-pop retailers to major retailers like Mattress Firm.”
Process: Used bedding is brought to the facilities on company trucks. Dream Green’s process was created from the ground up and features conveyers, steel grinders and magnetic sorting that helps about 35 employees in Texas and about 45 in Georgia as they manually tear apart thousands of mattresses and foundations. Dream Green comes close to breaking even by reselling about 97% of the used materials, which are used in the manufacture of new products other than bedding.
Growth: During 2013, when a second facility was opened in Gainesville, Dream Green kept 11 million pounds of bedding materials out of landfills. The program more than doubled the number of pieces it recycled in 2013 (about 150,000 in Texas and Georgia) over 2012 (about 60,000 in Texas). “This team is dedicated to being innovators in this arena,” Cavender says. “They see it as a long-term, increasing need and they intend to stay ahead of the game.” The program has enough capacity to handle more volume, and both Sleep Inc. and Corsicana Bedding continue to build awareness among their retail customers and increase participation. The company will continue to assess other potential locations throughout the country.
For more information: Call 816-918-8052.
Carolina Mattress Recyclers
Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina
Area served: Eastern and Midwestern United States
Fees: Vary from about $3 to $7 per piece, depending on quantity and components in the mattresses, as well as location.
History: Carolina Mattress Recyclers grew out of a brainstorming session between Mark Kiser, president, and Rick Detter, vice president of sales and operations. They operate MTJ American, which produces mattresses for the detention, university, medical and military sectors. In addition to implementing a “green” initiative with Carolina Mattress Recyclers, Kiser and Detter recognized an unfilled niche in the market.
“We started the mattress recycling because the service was needed for our customers,” Detter says. “They need to dispose of mattresses and there’s not always a facility nearby, other than a landfill, so they were asking us for that service. Some of our customers—like the military—may recycle 2,000 or 3,000 mattresses at a time—that’s 10 to 15 truckloads right there.
“In North Carolina there’s a law stating that you cannot recycle mattresses in the same facility where you build them, and no components can be reused in a new mattress—so we launched Carolina Mattress Recyclers to handle that.”
Number of employees: Varies depending on time of year; from eight to 10 working during the busy season, which is typically summer since that’s when schools replace mattresses.
Process: Production workers break down mattresses, separating foam, innersprings, batting, fabric and wood into separate containers. The company bales and sells the scrap foam, sends the innersprings to scrap metal dealers, and the remaining material goes to other companies that use it for everything from oil filters to automobiles to carpet backing. The company says it recycles 99% of the material from the mattresses it handles. The only thing that prevents a 100% recyclable rate, Detter says, is that some institutional mattresses include a vinyl fabric with a polyester scrim that cannot be reused.
Plans: The company is exploring an expansion into other markets by working with a company that does contract installation and removal of mattresses for hotels and motels, allowing that company to then offer recycling services to its customers in the hospitality industry.
Mission statement: “Our company’s mission is to do our part to make the world a better place. It is our objective to provide our employees stability in an environmentally safe workplace. We encourage our employees as well as our customers to have the same attitude toward making a world of difference by doing their part in helping conserve the world in which we live.”
For more information: www.carolinamattressrecycling.com
Michigan Mattress Recyclers
Location: Traverse City, Michigan
Ownership: Mattress retailers Rick Chelotti and Karen Darner opened Michigan Mattress Recyclers in Gaylord, Michigan, as a way to keep bulky mattresses out of landfills and help put Michigan residents to work. Operating in another part of the state was Bay Area Recycling for Charities Inc. That company, founded five years ago by Andrew Gale and based in Traverse City, Michigan, recycles a variety of products—from paper, plastic and glass to electronics to food waste. In the past, when it received mattresses from its customers, it sent them to Michigan Mattress Recyclers. So, when the original owners decided they wanted to spend more time doing other things, Bay Area stepped in and took over its operations.
Recent changes: Bay Area Recycling has moved Michigan Mattress Recyclers’ operations from Gaylord to a 40,000-square-foot facility in Traverse City. Recycling at the new location began in June.
Employees: When fully operational at the new site, Michigan Mattress Recyclers will employ about 25 people. Gale acknowledges mattress recycling is “a dirty, grueling job,” but also sees employment at the facility as a good opportunity for unemployed workers who need to get back on their feet. Bay Area Recyclers has a history of hiring special-needs workers through a partnership with Grand Traverse Industries, which trains and helps place special-needs workers, and the company might start a similar arrangement with Goodwill Industries, Gale says.
The process: The majority of the dismantling of bed sets and separating of components is done manually.
Fees: Fees range from $10 to $25 per piece, with the lower prices for truckloads and the higher prices for individuals bringing in a mattress or two at a time. The company has recycling agreements with municipal and county governments, mattress manufacturers, colleges and universities, landfills and waste haulers.
The future: Gale plans eventually to change the name of Michigan Mattress Recyclers to something less specific, in part because its stream of recyclable mattresses will come not only from Michigan but also from other states in the upper Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Challenges: Like most recyclers, Gale says finding markets for specialized components, such as coir, is one of the biggest challenges of making a recycling operation successful.
For more information: michiganmattressrecyclers.com
Mattress retailers, for more information about mattress recycling, read “What you need to know about mattress recycling.”