Opinion

An effort to recycle used mattresses

According to CalRecycle, recycling is the practice of recovering used materials from the waste stream and then incorporating those same materials into the manufacturing process.

 

Californians — consumers, business leaders and elected officials alike — are proud of their efforts to protect the environment through recycling and reuse.  Industries across every sector of the economy – from beverages to construction – have refined their processes and infrastructure to reduce waste and increase recycling to enhance sustainability wherever possible.

 

One area of recycling where California can improve relates to used mattresses.  At the end of their lifecycle, mattresses place tremendous strain on our landfills and contribute to community blight when they are illegally dumped in our neighborhoods. Across the United States, millions of used mattresses are discarded each year, ending up in landfills where they can take up 23 cubic feet of space each.

 

In California, we can and we will do better.  Which is why I am pleased to introduce SB 245, a measure that balances landfill pressures and environmental objectives with industry concerns.  SB 245 will strike a balance that incentivizes Californians to recycle used mattresses, thus easing the burden on our landfills and communities, while retaining valuable employers, creating new jobs and business opportunities.

 

Some of the specifics of SB 245 include creating a better and safer used mattress recycling program. It creates a non-profit mattress recycling organization whose duty will be to plan, implement and administer a state system to collect discarded used mattresses, dismantle them and recycle their materials for use in new products.

 

The organization will fund the system by collecting a nominal fee at retail on the sale of new mattresses and box-springs.  Many states follow a similar approach for other consumer products, including tires, batteries, motor oil, electronic devices, paint and carpet.

 

Another critical component to SB 245 is that it will essentially eliminate the problem of illegal mattress dumping.  SB 245 creates a financial incentive to encourage parties (including retailers that pick up used mattresses from consumers, municipal transfer stations, and groups that pick up illegally dumped mattresses) to send used mattresses to mattress recyclers.

 

The organization’s activities will be transparent, open to public input and subject to annual performance and financial audits that will be published on its website.  Further, the state’s oversight authority will confirm whether the organization has met its statutory obligations.

 

The goals set forth in SB 245 establish a sound foundation to move California forward in further preserving and protecting our communities from blight while creating new jobs and business opportunities.

 

A good mattress is essential to a healthy and productive lifestyle.  Yet, what we do with this bulky product at the end of its useful life is a challenge. I am confident this proposal will create a win-win solution for California consumers, environmentalists and industry.

 

SB 245 is not only about good environmental stewardship; it’s also about good business.

Ed’s Note: Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, represents the 34th Senate District.

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