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Politics

City of Edmonton looks to recycle mattresses

WATCH ABOVE: The City of Edmonton is looking for a company to help it recycle the approximately 30,000 mattresses it receives every year. Right now the mattresses are sent to the landfill. But as Julia Wong reports, that could soon be a thing of the past.

Right now, mattresses that are thrown away in the capital city go to the landfill and stay there, but the City of Edmonton is looking to change that.

The city is looking for a company to process and recycle mattresses received by the Edmonton Waste Management Centre.

Connie Boyce, the director of community relations for the city’s Utility Services Department, said discussions about mattress recycling started a few years ago.

Up to 30,000 mattresses are received every year – that works out to approximately 80 mattresses a day that are thrown away and left to sit at landfills.

“They are very bulky so if there is a way to recycle them, we would want to explore that option. We’re looking for a company that can take that product, recycle it and reuse the material. It’s just another way of helping us to achieve our waste diversion targets,” Boyce said.

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Boyce said it is too early to say whether the city would receive a share of the profits after the recycled products are sold.

“We are not necessarily [looking at turning a profit]. We want to keep waste out of the landfill. We don’t know what the cost will be. It needs to make economic sense as well as being a good environmental initiative,” she said.

Tom Modrovcic threw away three mattresses at the Kennedale Eco Station on Friday and was surprised to find out the items would be sitting at the landfill.

“I was hoping they can make better use of them,” he said.

But news that the city could be moving in a different direction is comforting.

“I don’t feel as guilty knowing that, in the future, they’ll be taking care of it that way. Like I said, it feels like a waste just to throw it out to the landfill.”

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The University of Alberta started recycling mattresses two years ago as part of a pilot program. It will be the trend moving forward now.

Sustainability coordinator Lauren Hall said 226 mattresses from residences were recycled last year while 167 mattresses were recycled this year.

“When they go to the landfill, they just sit there. They don’t decompose. They don’t break down. They just take up space,” she said.

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“We have a new institutional strategic plan that has a real focus on sustainability in residences so we wanted to start building that up.”

4 Good Home Services is one of only two companies in the province that recycles mattresses. It recycles approximately 100 mattresses every day.

Workers first cut through the mattress and peel back the layers to separate all the different components for recycling.

“We’re able to recycle the inner springs, all the steel from the mattresses is recyclable, wooden components from box springs is recyclable, polyurethane foam gets turned into carpet underpad, the felt pads get turned into moving pads,” said director of operations Bretton Hammond.

Hammond said 90 per cent of materials are able to be re-used and said it is astonishing that the items are currently being thrown away by the city.

“The hundreds of tonnes of material that are going to the landfill are just staggering.”

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The deadline has now passed for interested companies to present a proposal to the city. Applicants will be evaluated over the next few weeks but there is no timeline on when the city will start the mattress recycling program.

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