When a mattress wears out, the same features that favor horizontal comfort — big, tight, indestructible — lead to an environmental nightmare.
Americans discard an estimated 8 million mattresses a year into landfills. These take up space, snag on bulldozers and, even after deep burial, float to the surface again. Mattresses rank among the gnarliest items worsening a slowdown in U.S. recycling after decades of gains.
But a state-supported team in Denver is tackling the problem.
Spring Back Colorado, run in a former Army warehouse north of downtown, converts 3,000 mattresses a month into raw steel, fabric and foam. Team members rip the mattresses open using box cutters, extract the materials and cram them into crushers that create bales.
In the past two weeks, trucks hauled steel bales weighing a combined 26,880 pounds to a factory in Texas. The foam and fabric move to a carpet-maker in Commerce City.