Dirty used mattresses piled at a recycling site. (Noel V. Baebler via Shutterstock)
Dirty used mattresses piled at a recycling site. (Noel V. Baebler via Shutterstock)
Image of DAN McGOWAN & JUSTINE FALLON of the Mattress Recycling Council
DAN McGOWAN & JUSTINE FALLON

With the inevitable closing of MIRA’s waste-to-energy plant and the impact of China’s policies on recycling in the United States, there have been numerous foreboding headlines.

Connecticut, like the entire country, is grappling with how to make waste management and recycling work better. We recognize this as an important and complex issue and applaud the work of the state and local leaders that are developing solutions.

However, let’s take a moment this Earth Day to acknowledge Connecticut’s recycling achievements and take courage that the state is at the forefront of sustainability.

Last month, the RecycleCT Foundation announced the impressive contributions that the recycling industry makes to the state’s economy – residential recycling programs support 4,900 full-time jobs and provide $642 million to the state’s GDP. Industry-led recycling efforts like the Mattress Recycling Council’s Bye Bye Mattress program are part of this success.

Connecticut was the first state in the country to have a statewide mattress recycling program. The legislation that made it possible served as the blueprint for California and Rhode Island’s programs. Now others are looking to implement the same model – Massachusetts, Oregon, and Minnesota.

MRC has operated Bye Bye Mattress in Connecticut for over five years. In that time, it has recycled more than 900,000 mattresses, diverting 15,000 tons of steel, foam, fiber and wood from the waste stream. If those mattresses were stacked on top of one another, they would tower 170 miles, nearly reaching the International Space Station. In addition to keeping valuable materials out of landfills or from being incinerated, communities are also experiencing less illegal dumping.

MRC’s Bye Bye Mattress is an excellent example of a public-private partnership making a difference. MRC collaborates with local governments, solid waste facilities, waste haulers, nonprofit organizations, and small- and minority-owned businesses, to create a collection footprint that spans rural and urban areas and provides both households and commercial sources with multiple options for disposing of a mattress so that it can be recycled. The collected mattresses are then recycled in Connecticut with Park City Green and Willimantic Waste.

The mattress industry is dedicated to making mattress recycling work for the long-term. That’s why MRC is improving the program further by investing in important research to create new end markets for mattress materials, encouraging manufacturers to consider recycling challenges when designing new products and promoting circular economy goals.

MRC thanks all of our recycling partners, their employees and the residents who continue to do their part to improve Connecticut’s environment.

Justine Fallon is Director of Operations and Dan McGowan is Northeast Program Coordinator for the Mattress Recycling Council.

The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.