There are several options available for getting rid of an old mattress, but of course how much it will cost, either to your household finances, or the planet, is always an issue!
Counting council costs
Mattresses are the most commonly collected items in council bulky waste collections, according to Reading Council, but disposal this way now comes at a cost as council charges for collection of bulky waste crept into many UK areas from around 2012. Many authorities previously offered free collections but it was anticipated that charging local householders for bulky item disposal would allow councils to make significant savings through:
- Less demand for services, as a fee would encourage households to seek cheaper alternatives. For example, when they introduced charges in 2015, Leicester City Council estimated that demand for collections would fall by 75%.
- Offsetting the costs of collection services, as well as the cost of running recycling and waste disposal facilities.
- Encouraging householders towards environmentally-friendly disposal, such as reuse and responsible recycling, rather than landfill services, something which every council has stringent targets to meet.
However, since the majority of bulky waste collection charges were introduced, incidents of fly-tipping have increased – costing councils over £50 million in 2014/2015 for clear ups (DEFRA, 2015).
Checking out council charges
As all councils are responsible for setting their own fees, there are some interesting variations across the UK. For example, the average across London authorities is £43 – with areas such as Newham charging £20 for up to 6 items, whilst the London Borough of Bexley charges £30 for up to two items in each collection. In the wider UK, Eastbourne residents pay fees of £50 for up to 3 items, whilst the Central Bedfordshire council charge is £51 for up to 12 items. Such variation makes it difficult to anticipate the likely cost for your local area, but easy ways to find out include:
- Searching for Bulky Waste collection charges on your local council’s website.
- Checking Collect Your Old Bed’s UK map of bulky waste collection charges.
However, although using council services may seem an affordable cost, not all councils guarantee recycling as the disposal method for mattresses, so what else can you try to ensure less cost to the environment?
Cutting costs for you and the environment
An alternative which offers good value service with low cost for you and the environment, is to use a licensed disposal company which offers the assurances of 100% recycling, no risk of fly-tipping and collection methods which can be cheaper and more convenient than council collections.
No cost disposal
- Taking your mattress to your local recycling facility
Doing this is free, but may cost you in time and fuel to transport your mattress, or even in cash if you need to pay a man and van to move the item … and be careful for rogue services which promise ethical disposal for cash but then fly-tip or dump items.
- Offering a mattress on Freecycle
Freecycle is a non-profit movement aimed at keeping as many useful items as possible out of landfill. Freecycle facilitates items being passed on for free within local communities through online and Facebook groups . An unwanted bed or mattress can easily be offered free for collection but although responses often come in very quickly, collection itself is not always easily arranged – collections need to be arranged at mutual convenience and often rely on collectors being able to access the right vehicle to transport the mattress. As such, Freecycle community pages are often full of comments about the frustration of non-collections.
- Charity reuse
Donating an unwanted bed or mattress to charity is a good way to support the charity, plus ensure that usable goods are recycled, for example in 2016 the charity Emmaus reused more than 4000 tonnes of household items which would otherwise have gone into landfill. It’s also a way of supporting needy families with useful items at a reasonable cost.
Please note, items for donation must meet certain criteria before charities such as Emmaus communities and British Heart Foundation will collect. Mattresses will need to have fire labels fully intact and be in a good, clean condition.
Small spends which save?
So, where does that leave you? Donating your old mattress to charity is a good option if it’s in good condition. Then, although paying for council collection is a popular choice, it’s worth checking the costs and seeing if your council guarantees that mattresses collected are recycled. Finally, paying for ‘man and van’ collection and disposal cost is a safe bet so long as the company is professionally licensed and offers a recycling guarantee.