Local authority leaders are calling for mattress manufacturers to be forced to recycle their own products and offer take-back services to stop them being illegally fly-tipped.
A Local Government Association (LGA) analysis of the latest industry figures shows that annual UK mattress sales are outstripping the number recycled by more than five-fold, with 7.26 million sold as replacements compared to 1.36 million recycled.
The LGA argues that the lack of a comprehensive take-back and recycling scheme is leaving over-stretched councils to ‘pick up the slack’.
Mattresses are fuelling cost pressures on waste and recycling centres because they require specialist treatment due to their bulky nature and mix of metal and fabric components.
They also made up 13% of waste illegally dumped in England between 2013 and 2018. Fly-tipping costs councils in England £58m a year to clear up.
The LGA wants manufacturers to be forced to recycle their mattresses and offer take-back services, which will enable people to return them instead of throwing them away.
'Dumped mattresses made up a quarter of all fly-tipping incidents in some areas in the past five years,’ said LGA environment spokesman Cllr David Renard.
'Unwanted mattresses are fuelling landfill costs which continue to rise, putting pressure on waste and recycling centres which councils are working hard to keep open.
‘Mattresses are bulky and hard to throw away, but are generally recyclable. Manufacturers need to take responsibility for the life-cycle of their mattresses and help councils and consumers dispose of them responsibly.’
‘Alongside being forced to offer take-back services and recycle mattresses as part of a circular economy, manufacturers need to be made to introduce mandatory take-back schemes to help reduce mattresses being dumped illegally and contributing to a fly-tipping bill of nearly £60m a year to taxpayers in England,’ he continued.
‘Fly-tipping is an illegal and inexcusable blight on society. Offenders need to be given bigger fines and councils need adequate funding to investigate incidents.’