After fighting the issue last year, mattress manufacturers and retailers have joined with environmentalists and local governments in identifying the need for a solution to the mattress dumping and waste problem. However, the mattress industry differs in their vision for a solution.
The question before policy makers is whether that solution should be financed by a tax on mattress consumers or whether the solution should be financed by the manufacturers.
The LA Times recently highlighted that two competing bills are making their way through the Legislature that would make California the first in the nation to have a mattress recycling program statewide.
Senator Hancock has reintroduced her mattress recycling bill this year as SB 254. Last year’s bill SB 1118 came very close to passage. It passed the Assembly Floor with a resounding 48-31 vote, but the bill did not pass the Senate Floor when it came up for a "concurrence" vote before the constitutional midnight deadline to pass legislation, killing the bill.
SB 254 (Hancock) is sponsored by Californians Against Waste (CAW) and is supported by local governments, community and environmental groups. SB 254 would require mattress manufacturers to recycle 75% of used mattresses by 2020. To pay for it, manufacturers would be free to charge fees to retailers or consumers.
SB 245 by Senator Correa, which is supported by mattress manufacturers, would place a state tax on the sale of mattresses to be clearly listed on sales receipts. A Mattress Tax would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature, and that may be a politically difficult hurdle.
In addition, the mattress manufacturer proposal lacks recycling goals. 80-90% of mattress parts are recyclable if they are separated and the mattress components have value, including steel springs and polyurethane foam. Recycling is cheaper than disposal and generates employment.
Simply adopting the manufacturers' proposal to collect and dump old mattresses would be a missed opportunity for the environment and the economy.