UK Shoppers Face “Recycling Postcode Lottery” When Disposing of Old Mattresses

June 4, 2019

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Research by British bed manufacturer Happy Beds has found a huge disparity in how much local authorities charge for collecting and recycling mattresses.

Depending on where people live, recycling a mattress can be done free of charge – or it could cost up to £75.

The research reviewed the bulky waste collection services of 378 councils in England, Scotland and Wales, and found 20 local authorities (5.3% in total) provide free collection of larger items such as beds and mattresses.

Liverpool City Council is one such. Councillor James Noakes, Cabinet Member for Streetscene, told us:
“We have taken a decision to retain free bulky waste collections because we want to make it as easy as possible for people to dispose of large items and prevent dumping or fly tipping. Our bulky household waste collection partner has completed over 1.1million collections over the last 30 years. Everything is checked to see if it is suitable for reuse, and if it is, much of it is given away for free through 200 referral agencies.”

By contrast, the UK’s most expensive council for disposal of bulky waste, Aylesbury Vale in Buckinghamshire, charges £75 – almost 3 times the UK average of £26.

15 of the free-recycling councils are in England and 6 in London: Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Croydon, Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Redbridge.

Rural inhabitants are having to pay more to dispose of their old mattresses. In England and Wales’ 50 most densely populated councils, 8 offered free bulk collection at an average cost of £27.83. In comparison, no councils offered free collections in the 50 least-populated areas. The 50 least-densely populated councils had an average recycling cost of £26.81*.

The study demonstrates the UK’s recycling ‘postcode lottery’. While someone living within the local authority of Hillingdon can have their mattress recycled free of charge, residents of nearby Richmond have to pay £60 for their local authority to collect their bulk item.

Residents of Eastleigh have to pay £58 to have their mattress picked up and recycled, whereas down the road in Southampton it costs just £10.

Despite the free services in London, it was the South East which proved to be the region with the lowest average collection costs in England.

Region Average Price (£)
North East 25.15
North West 22.69
Midlands 24.71
East 23.01
South West 25.71
South East 18.08
London 20.66

Overall, Wales proved to be the cheapest nation in mainland Britain for bulk waste recycling with an average of £22.67 per collection.

Location Average Minimum Price £
England £27.12
Scotland £28.20
Wales £22.67
Combined Average £26

Joy Richards of Happy Beds, who conducted the research said:
“Recycling old mattresses is an excellent step to reducing a household's contribution to a growing waste problem, but it’s hard if local authorities are charging nearly as much as a new mattress will cost.
While we do stock thousands of mattresses, our cheapest product is £89.99 – meaning that if someone in Aylesbury Vale bought it and had to recycle theirs, their total outlay would nearly double!”

“That’s why we’re working hard to offer our own competitively-priced mattress collection service and are using our interactive map to make it easy for people to find out how much council recycling is near them.”
Click here to find out the fees in your area. You can also read all the findings from Happy Beds’ research, here (https://www.happybeds.co.uk/blog/mattress-recycling-postcode-lottery/)

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