14th July 2023

Can mattress recycling support Britain’s water shortage?

By TFRG Team

The UK is in the midst of a prolonged water shortage due to longer periods of warmer weather caused by the impact of global warming and significant leaks across the water system.

Last year was the driest on record across Britain since 1976, with water usage increasing by 40%. Water companies supplied hundreds of millions of litres of extra water each day and imposed restrictions including hosepipe bans, while pledging ambitious targets to cut system leakage by 50% by 2050.

With this situation set to worsen with the effects of climate change, could a circular economy solution help Britain’s soaring water shortage?

Landfill diversion

In the UK nearly a quarter (22.5%) of all waste produced ends up in landfill sites, with 8.5 million mattresses, the equivalent to 300,000 tonnes, taking up limited space in landfill sites nationwide.

Landfill sites have a profoundly negative impact on the environment, with toxic gases produced and leaked into the atmosphere. These gases contribute to an increase in the planet’s temperature, which results in an increased use of water not just in the UK, but globally. Research has found that if the current situation continues and we do not take action, landfill sites will account for 10% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

By recycling and reusing mattresses on a large scale, they can be diverted from landfill, reducing the amount of bulky waste taking up limited space and adding to the effects of climate change.

Reducing manufacturing

In turn, reducing the manufacture of new mattresses will significantly reduce the amount of energy and water used within the manufacturing process while also limiting the pollution released into the atmosphere.

The furniture industry and ‘fast furniture’ in particular, is fuelling global deforestation and increasing the production of harmful greenhouse emissions. In the UK, over 22 million pieces of furniture are discarded every year, more than half (51%) of which could be reused or recycled.

Introducing a circular economy approach would enable mattress manufacturers to create items with the intent to be either recycled or re-used at the end of life stage, ultimately reducing the fossil fuels and water used to create the item and saving the landfill space. Once the sector begins to move towards circular economy strategies it will help to negate the alarming changes brought about by climate change and in turn help reduce the temperatures we are seeing not only in the UK, but globally.

Nick Oettinger, CEO at TFR Group, said “When manufacturers and retailers adopt a circular economy approach to design and produce items such as mattresses, the soaring effects of climate change can be halted to ensure that significant issues such as droughts and water shortages will not become commonplace. While a more sustainable approach is being adopted across the furniture industry, this can also impact other sectors which have a larger carbon footprint and contribute heavily to global warming.”

Discover how our recycling service is helping a range of businesses and brands to divert their waste away from landfill and helping them to achieve their sustainability targets in 2023. 

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