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Mattress landfill crisis to hit back pocket

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Yes, even going to bed is about to get more expensive, thanks to the mattress industry passing on costs as it attempts to reduce its environmental impact.

Approximately 1.8 million mattresses are dumped in Australia every year, at least 100,000 of them illegally. 

And, despite local councils offering an array of disposal options, the message, it seems, is still not getting through, with the federal government now turning its attention to the mattress industry itself. 

In an announcement earlier this week, Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek placed the industry on the Minister’s Priority List, identifying it as one of the most in need of changes to reduce environmental impacts. 

In order to kickstart the process a grant was issued to the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund to develop a scheme focusing on environmental and sustainability issues posed by end-of-life mattresses. 

The scheme will be developed by the Australian Bedding Stewardship Council (ABSC), a group established in 2020 and whose members include mattress manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers and their supply chains. 

ABSC chief executive officer Vernon Fair says the mattress industry welcomes its inclusion on the Minister’s Priority List and calling on a whole-industry approach to solutions.

“A piecemeal approach to this issue is not going to deliver the sort of sustainable change that government and the community is expecting,” he says.  

“There are a variety of recycling schemes and programs in operation through individual sellers and manufacturers, but we believe a whole-of-industry approach, with everyone pulling in the same direction, a transparent sharing of innovative ideas and the pooling of resources to invest in research and development, is the best way to solve these issues.  

“Industry can really have a significant impact and role in ensuring the products that we provide to our customers do not come at the cost of adverse environmental impacts and impose on local councils.” 

Here’s where we as consumers come in..

The ABSC recently received conditional authorisation from the ACCC to apply a fee to mattresses to fund the scheme’s objectives for the next five years. 

Muster
Maitland Mattress Muster 2021

Local numbers:

A total of 313 locals dropped off 706 mattresses – weighing in at approximately 17 tonnes – at the Singleton Waste Management Facility in the first of two new waste initiatives for 2021.

For locals who can’t wait for their allocated mattress muster date, most Hunter LGAs offer a disposal service for approximately $35.

Check your local council for bulk waste information.

Did you know?..

Australia’s annual mattress dump, if placed end-to-end, would stretch from Hobart to Darwin. 

The cost of illegal dumping of mattresses is not just environmental but also being worn by ratepayers.

The ABSC estimates 41% of old mattresses end up in landfill. And although 59% are collected for recycling, up to 64% of the overall weight of those collected mattresses still goes to landfill because the recovered material is either impossible to recycle or of no value to recyclers. 

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