There are three parts to the recycling process, Collection, Manufacturing, Buying. These three components are so important that they are represented by the three “chasing arrows” in the recycling logo. Collection – the motto should be don’t sent recyclables to landfill. At this phase we separate mattresses from the waste stream as they are prepared to go through their first stage on the road to becoming a raw material.
Manufacturing – We employ a deconstruction process that separates all the materials contained in mattresses and bed bases. We are left with steel springs, foam, cloth and wood. The wood is cut and packed as kindling and the springs, foam, cloth are baled and sent to companies who are fully permitted and specialise in the further processing of these materials.
Buying - The steel springs are forwarded to scrap metal companies. A steel mill using scrap steel in place of virgin iron ore to make a new product, gives the public outstanding value. The new product is comparable in performance to a similar product made from virgin iron ore and its manufacturing process offers fewer risks to the environment.
Baled textile materials are forwarded on to permitted textile recyclers. The materials are shredded and converted into *R.D.F. or S.R.F. to be used in the cement/kiln industry, where the strict standards of the Waste Incineration Directive are meet.
(S.R.F.) is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste (MSW) with a waste convertor technology. Polyurethane foam removed from a mattress can be reused as rebounded flexible foam or “rebond” is made with pieces of chopped flexible polyurethane foam and a binder to create carpet underlay, sports mats, cushioning and similar products. Adhesive Pressing/Particle Bonding these two recycling processes use polyurethane from various applications, such as automobile parts, refrigerators and industrial trim, to create boards and mouldings, often with very high recycled content. Used polyurethane parts are granulated and blended either with a powerful binder or polyurethane systems, then formed into boards or mouldings under heat and pressure. The resulting products, analogous to particleboard made from wood waste, are used in sound proofing applications, furniture that is virtually impervious to water and flooring where elasticity is needed.
The wood derived from the bed bases is sold through retail outlets as kindling to the general public. The third step is where you, the consumer, purchase products made with recycled content. When you “Buy Recycled,” you complete the recycling loop.
Who else recycles mattresses?
At present Eco Mattress Recycling Ireland is the sole provider of a 100% mattress recycling service in Ireland. Up to now landfill is the only alternative available to public or private enterprises or indeed to the general public. On price we cannot compete with landfill and rely on the concise and influence of individuals employed within state and private companies who support our green agenda. Mattresses are one of the most unsuitable products to go into landfill and Eco Mattress Recycling Ireland is proud to be able to offer an alternative to this most environmentally damaging process.
In a twelve month period from May ’13 to April ’14 we have prevented one hundred and seventy tonnes of waste material going to landfill sites. This includes nearly 100 tonne of combustible waste suitable for R.F.D./S.R.F. and a further fifty five tonne of steel springs going for further processing by fully permitted recycling companies. Over seven tonne of wood extracted from bed bases is recycled as kindling. With the remaining eight tonne of materials accounted for through work in progress and
stock in hand. Running at full capacity for a period of twelve months our mattresses deconstruction
processes would save over 600 tonne of bulky waste going to landfill sites.
These conclusions are based on an in depth analysis of all the data gathered during our first full years operations. We have now created a sustainable social economy enterprise that can generate a reasonable gross profit annually. This income will not only cover our running costs but will also allow us to reinvest in machinery and systems to improve our work processes. We now employ one permanent member of staff and hope our continued progress will provide us with the opportunity to offer some more trainee staff permanent positions.
What are other waste products used for?
We have a number of recycling companies in Ireland that recycle that sort material into various types (cardboard, paper, and plastics, metals, and glass) to make it more economically viable for us to prepare the material for the markets. Then it is sold on to a manufacturer who uses the material to make a new product. Glass is made into fiberglass or glassphalt used on surface roads.
Newspaper and magazines often become new newspaper and magazines. Mixed paper and corrugated cardboard are used to make the thin liner in corrugated cardboard or made into another paperboard product. White paper is used to make new paper. Aluminium cans become new aluminium cans, car parts, or any other aluminium product. Plastic soda bottles become new plastic containers, fiberfill for pillows or sleeping bags, and car parts. Steel is made into new steel products.
Why are some things recyclable and others are not?
As technology improves more materials will become easier to recycle in communities nationwide. In order for materials to be recycled, markets must exist and there must be a demand for the end products.
If stable markets do not exist, materials are often stock-piled and could ultimately end up at the landfill. Governments need to ensure there is a stable market for a item before it adds it to its collection target. You can help create stable markets for recyclables by Buying Recycled!
Why can't I recycle everything?
The shortest answer is that not everything has a market. Remember that recycling is not just a solution to green environmental issues but a business with the economics driven by supply and demand - just like any other business. Is there a demand by a manufacturer for a particular material? Are they willing to pay for this material, like they would any other type of raw material?
Of course, what often drives the manufacturer's demand for a material type is the consumer's demand for the end product. By buying products containing recycled materials, we "close the loop". When the loop is closed, markets are developed and recycling those materials
makes more economic sense. In short, in order for anything to be recycled, it must have a market to be sold to.