What's the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of old mattresses?

Parts of a Mattress That Can Be Recycled

Mattresses are made up of materials that are very easy and lucrative to recycle.
Mattresses are made up of materials that are very easy and lucrative to recycle.

Mattress designs have been perfected over the years, but they all contain several main components. Although the intricate assembly of a mattress makes it more difficult to recycle, once disassembled, mattresses are made up of materials that are very easy and lucrative to recycle.

Steel springs, a wood frame, stuffing and fabric with buttons -- all of these things can be recycled or reused. Steel in particular is a great material for recycling. The cost of recycling steel has decreased so much you could actually make money from melting down the steel springs and selling the resulting steel supply. Mattresses have anywhere from 300 to 600 steel coils depending on the size of mattress you have [source: Better Homes and Gardens]. The higher quality the mattress, the more coils it will have. If you own a high-quality king-size mattress, it would be a shame not to recycle it.

Additionally, the stuffing of a mattress, which is made up of cotton and foam, can be recycled or reused for stuffing pillows, reupholstering furniture, or even recycled and used in carpet padding. The wood frame can either be shredded and used as lawn mulch or disassembled and used for firewood or in carpentry word. Even the fabric and buttons can be reused, as long as the fabric has been cleaned. E­­­ven specialty mattresses like the Tempurpedic and memory foam can be recycled because they're made up of the same basic materials.

Box springs can also be recycled at recycling facilities where these bulky items are accepted. They are fed into a special machine where a specifically designed saw rips away the soft materials on the top and bottom, separating the mattress and box springs into its components. The springs are pulled away with magnets and the foam and cotton stuffing are grouped together and shredded for another use. With the right technology, a mattress can be recycled in just four minutes [source: The Christian Science Monitor]. We'll discuss the different options you have for recycling your old mattress on the next page.