Mattress retailers and manufacturers face new requirements in California in 2016. Responding to attempts to over-regulate disposal of used mattresses, a coalition of manufacturers and retailers sponsored legislation to create an industry managed recycling program. The primary objective of the program is to get mattresses out of the waste stream and landfills. SB 254 (Correa, Hancock) was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sept. 27, 2013, with support from the mattress industry as well as local governments and environmental groups. Similar to legislation enacted in both Connecticut and Rhode Island, the California legislation avoids burdensome new mandates, the cost of which would ultimately be borne by consumers. 

It is estimated that Californians discard up to 2 million mattresses annually. Historically, most of those used mattresses end up in landfills occupying valuable space in the waste stream.

SB 254 required mattress manufacturers and retailers to develop a mattress recycling program to increase the recovery and recycling of used mattresses and to reduce the blight associated with illegal dumping. Since SB 254 was enacted, acting through the International Sleep Products Association, the mattress industry created the nonprofit Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), whose new program is known as “Bye Bye Mattress.” The Bye Bye Mattress program will be funded through a point of sale recycling fee that will be assessed on all mattresses sold within the state of California. Under the new law, all retailers and manufacturers doing business in the state are required to register with the MRC. Retailers are required to collect the fee from consumers who purchase product in the state. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has approved the MRC’s proposed budget and an $11 recycling fee to fund the Bye Bye Mattress program. Retailers may not lawfully sell mattress product in the state without registering with the MRC and collecting and remitting the fee. CalRecycle will have the enforcement authority which includes the ability to levy civil fines for non-compliance.

The recycling funds will be used to fund mattress collection, transportation, and recycling services throughout California. The program will also create recycling opportunities for California residents, hotels, universities, hospitals, and military bases and will support a fund to help communities battle illegal dumping. To comply with this new law, both brick-and-mortar and online retailers selling mattresses in or into California must register at MRCreporting.org. This secure portal also allows retailers to submit monthly sales reports and remit collected recycling fees. That means that by Dec. 30, 2015, all mattress sales within the state of California will require the levy, collection, and remittance of the recycling fee established by the MRC and CalRecycle.  

If successful, the Bye Bye Mattress program will keep old mattresses out of landfills, off highways, and out of vacant lots and alleys and create a comprehensive mattress recycling solution that is consumer friendly and efficient. It is also likely to create new recycling jobs in the state. A lot of eyes will be watching California’s implementation given the sheer size of the program needed for a state with a population of 36 million.