Give your mattress a second life
1.5 million mattresses are thrown away every year in the Netherlands. 1.2 million mattresses are from private homes and the remaining 300,000 come from hotels, prisons, hospitals and care institutions. It is such a waste, because about 90% of the mattress components can be recycled. Not immediately into a new mattress, but into raw materials for other finished products. Because Auping aims to reduce waste as much as possible we introduced the Auping Take Back System (ATBS) in 2011, meaning we’ll take your old mattress back with us in a special bag when delivering your new mattress. This can then be kept dry and transported hygienically to the recycling company, which also saves you a trip to the tip.
How does the recycling process actually work?
These mattresses are returned to the recycling company, Retourmatras. This Dutch company was founded in 2009 and processes over 40% of all old mattresses. This is where the process to recycle your old mattress begins.
First of all, all mattresses are scanned using a metal detector. There are many different kinds of mattress. Mattresses with metal inner springs are separated from mattresses without metal inner springs. Each follows a specific recycling process. Next, a specially developed ‘peeling roll’ removes the ticking (outer cover) from the mattress. This fabric is pressed into bales, making it easy to transport. These bales are generally sent to Morocco where there is a large textile industry. They are then turned into, for example, large sheets of cloth.
Metal is filtered from the recycling chain using a large magnet. A pocket spring mattress contains about 4 kg of metal. This material is sent to processing companies which turn it into e.g. door handles.
Most of the material in the flow consists of foam. This foam is shredded and baled. In the past, these bales were sold to Germany, America and the Middle East. However, these large bales are very bulky to store and transport. This is not sustainable so, in 2018, Retourmatras opened its own new factory in Alphen aan de Rijn, where it transforms the foam from old mattresses into ‘bonded foam’. This material is easy to produce in different formats, heights and thicknesses, allowing it to be used in different ways. Bonded foam is useful in e.g. underlay, sound insulation material and as a shock absorber beneath sports and artificial grass pitches.
Auping in the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark all participate in the Auping Take Back System. In 2018, 7,673 mattresses were returned via Auping to a recycling company. 82% of these came from the Netherlands.