Courtesy of Sad City Hartford
Mattresses on the side of the road in Hartford (Courtesy of Sad City Hartford)

Connecticut lawmakers will try again this year to require mattress recycling by creating a mattress stewardship program. The Environment Committee raised the concept of mattress recycling Friday and supporters are optimistic in its chances for passage.

Similar legislation passed the Senate last year, but the House never brought it up for a vote.

“I don’t think enough people had a real understanding of the scope and depth of the problem,” Rep. Linda Gentile, D-Ansonia, said Friday.

Gentile, the co-chairwoman of the Environment Committee, said she thinks this year lawmakers have a better understanding of the fiscal hardship it creates for cities and towns. She said the incentive to implement a recycling program is based on the money that can be saved.

About 90 percent of mattresses and box springs can be reused or recycled. The foam can be torn up and sold as insulation or carpet padding and the wood from the box springs can be sold to wood chippers. The steel from the metal springs can be sold to recycling companies who melt it down to make new products.

There are currently two mattress recycling facilities in the state. They’re located in Bloomfield and Bridgeport. There is also one in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Last year’s effort to reduce mattress waste was spearheaded by the City of Hartford. In 2011, Hartford estimated it would cost them $200,000 in 2012 to dispose of tens of thousands of mattresses. Part of the problem for the Capital city was residents from surrounding towns aimed to avoid disposal fees by illegally dumping mattresses in Hartford’s parks, vacant lots, and city streets. With the cost of disposal at $10 to $30 per unit, the city got motivated to find solutions.

But it’s not just a problem for Connecticut’s cities.

Statewide, Connecticut towns spent over $1.2 million dollars in mattress disposal fees in 2011.  The mattresses in Hartford and surrounding towns are sometimes incinerated at the Mid-Connecticut trash-to-energy plant, while others are sent as far away as Ohio for landfilling, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Last year’s legislative proposal would have required mattress producers to form a council and create a fee structure to cover the costs of collection, transportation, and disposal. That fee would likely be passed along to consumers at the point of sale.

The legislation last year was opposed by the International Sleep Products Association which testified that it would impose costs on Connecticut manufacturers and would encourage mattress producers that sell in Connecticut to abandon the state.

But in a year when municipal funding may be cut, lawmakers are looking for ways to save their hometowns as much money as possible. Some lawmakers think a statewide mattress recycling program could at least be a start.

Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, said he anticipates there won’t be as much debate as there was last year on the issue and believes it will pass.

Last year after a lengthy debate in the Senate, the legislation passed that chamber by a vote of 32-4.