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A Business Case for Mattress Recycling in Scotland

This document sets out to assess the viability of mattress recycling in Scotland and explore a business case for potential development of this activity.

It is estimated that, at present, 15% of mattresses in the UK are recycled at end of life: however, only a low level of mattress recycling capacity is active within Scotland at the time of writing. This lack of capacity indicates that there may be potential for developing recycling operations within Scotland.

The environmental case and policy drivers for mattress recycling are clear. Mattresses are a problem for waste management; they most commonly arise from the domestic market and are collected by local authority services to be sent to landfill. It is estimated that 8,000 tonnes of mattresses are disposed of by local authorities in Scotland, with the majority ending up in landfill (£80 per tonne) at a cost to them of around £640,000 p.a.

There are several policy and environmental drivers which support the need for alternative processing routes. This is particularly true of recycling, as mattresses contain many materials including steel, textiles and polyurethane foam which, if separated, have a value to recycling end markets. Capturing these materials for recycling or recovery aligns with the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan, which sets out objectives for resource management to 2025 (targeting a 70% recycling rate and 5% of waste sent to landfill) and emphasises the need to capture materials to minimise demand for virgin raw materials for Scottish manufacturing. Developing the infrastructure for mattress recycling will contribute to these targets, offering a potential business opportunity and providing a source of materials to end markets.

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