Mattresses thrown away in Cornwall annually would stretch further than Penzance to Bude laid end to end
Advertorial, but still interesting at an environmental level:
A UK sleep website is calling for an industry-wide label to show shoppers the carbon footprint of their new mattress.
The Best Mattresses Guide has estimated that the number of mattresses thrown away in Cornwall each year would stretch further than Penzance to Bude if laid end to end. It estimates that about 60,000 mattresses are thrown away in Cornwall each year – which would stretch for 119km.*
The website wants each new mattress to come with details of its carbon footprint – including the emissions from manufacturing and transport. A handful of mattress companies already offer some of this information but many don’t and there is no obligation to do so.
It is urging people to support the campaign by signing its petition.
The website is aiming to get 833 signatures on its petition for clearer labelling – one for every mattress thrown away in just one hour in the UK.
A big environmental impact
The production of a new double mattress creates a carbon footprint which is roughly equivalent to a petrol car driving 300 miles (the equivalent of London to Newcastle).
Several factors influence the carbon footprint. Some mattresses are imported, whilst others are made in the UK. Mattresses also use a variety of different materials. Some studies suggest that natural cotton has a lower impact than man-made polyester.
As well as the emissions from production, the disposal of old mattresses has a big environmental impact. The UK throws away 20,000 mattresses every day. The UK’s yearly total would stretch from the UK to Australia if laid end to end. If they were stacked on top of each other, they would be more than 200 times the height of Mount Everest.
A 2019 report from the National Bed Federation revealed that the UK recycles 19% of mattress materials.
Robert Lane from The Best Mattresses Guide said:
“Many mattress companies have made big efforts in recent years to become greener. Some make packaging from recycled materials and some boast of ‘carbon neutral’ factories.”
“However, there’s a lot of information missing and the UK’s mattresses are still having a colossal impact on the environment. For shoppers who want to make a difference, it is hugely confusing.”
“Displaying the carbon emissions from manufacturing and transport wouldn’t tell you everything about how ‘green’ a mattress is, but it would be a good start. We are raising the challenge to the mattress industry to help consumers make environmentally friendly choices.”
6 Tips For Choosing A Greener Mattress
Best-mattresses.co.uk is also offering six tips for shoppers who want to reduce their environmental impact when they buy a mattress.
1. Ask what packaging the mattress will arrive in. After all, a carrier bag big enough for a mattress is a huge amount of plastic. Some mattress companies now use one layer of plastic rather than two. Others, such as Hypnos use a combination of ‘sugar cane ethanol’ with recycled plastic.
2. One good quality mattress which lasts you for eight years will have a smaller environmental impact than two poor quality mattresses that last for four years. It’s difficult to know how long a mattress will last for but the length of the warranty is a good indication of quality. Avoid very cheap mattresses if you can afford to spend a little more.
3. Deeper mattresses are – unsurprisingly – much worse for carbon emissions. Buy a mattress which is deep enough to support you, but not excessively deep. Lighter people can get away with a thinner mattress than heavier people.
4. If you’re buying a mattress online with a risk-free trial period, ask what will happen if you send the mattress back. Will it be recycled, donated to charity or re-sold at a discount price? Or will it be sent to landfill?
5. Check where the mattress is manufactured. Lots of budget, mid-priced and luxury mattresses are made in the UK. If it doesn’t say ‘Made in the UK’ in the description then it has probably been shipped from the other side of the world.
6. Mattresses made with ‘open coil’ or ‘bonnell’ springs are much easier to recycle than ‘pocket sprung’ mattresses. This is because an open coil mattress has one long piece of metal whereas a pocket sprung mattress can have 2000 tiny pieces of metal which have to be extracted one-by-one. However, pocket sprung mattresses are more supportive. Eco-aware shoppers might decide to have an open coil mattress for an occasionally used guest bed but to have a pocket sprung mattress for every day use.