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We must make it easier

Progress in the project "Matresses Resuse"]

The mattress project is about recycling discarded mattresses. They take up space, are difficult to collect and transport, and are thrown away and burned. A pilot test has shown that collecting, shredding, and recycling mattress components is possible. An important finding from the pilot test was that the discarded mattresses must NOT be wet when collected and stored, as they cannot be recycled in that condition. Therefore, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is developing a prototype of a protective mattress bag to ensure that the mattresses sent for recycling are completely dry.

In Denmark, approximately 450,000 mattresses are discarded yearly from regular households and at least 35 million at the EU level. Only seven countries have take-back systems to ensure the recycling of discarded mattresses. Organising collection and recycling with the right technology in Denmark is still pending. 

The potential of providing all municipalities and citizens with easy access to an inexpensive mattress bag will undoubtedly increase mattress recycling. Studies conducted in the project show that citizens are positive about using a mattress bag, especially if it is clear how it increases recycling. The upcoming take-back system in Denmark, where mattress manufacturers, for example, take back their mattresses upon delivery of a new one, will likely also require some form of protective bag. 

In addition to the recycling potential, the project examines mattress reuse and what it takes for citizens to accept buying used mattresses. Several barriers need to be investigated, such as whether it is solely a hygiene issue or if there are other concerns, such as thoughts of previous usage situations. Younger people are more aligned with the climate agenda than older generations and are willing to make new compromises. Several of these questions will be clarified during the autumn. 

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About the author

Bettina Hauge