How to Get Rid of an Old Mattress – and Other Textiles, Now
Textiles, defined by Mass.gov as bedding, clothing, curtains, fabric, footwear, towels, and similar items, are among items named in a new Massachusetts law aimed at reducing the “waste stream.” These items, if clean, should now be recycled instead of thrown away.
Turner Hollman, Contributing Writer
You may (or may not) know that a new law took effect in Massachusetts November 1, 2022 that changes what must be recycled rather than be thrown out and becoming part of what is called the “Waste Stream.” This change in the law concerning recycling will affect how you dispose of some items. We will only address textiles, including mattress disposal, in this article. Mattresses, other textiles, and food waste were specifically addressed in this updated recycling law, but commercial food waste disposal is a whole other topic.
First—what does the law mean by “textiles”? According to the mass.gov website, “For waste disposal-ban purposes, textiles are defined as bedding, clothing, curtains, fabric, footwear, towels, and similar items. Virtually any textile can be reused, repurposed, or recycled if clean and dry. Even worn, torn, and stained items have recovery value.”
This addresses some, but certainly not all the questions surrounding this new recycling regulation. According to www.recyclesmart.org an education initiative funded by Mass. DEP, “If you’ve got clothes that are covered in paint, grease, or mold, they should also be disposed of with regular trash pickup.”
Mass DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg stated, “Recovering textiles is an excellent opportunity for our cities and towns to reduce trash disposal from their residents at the same time as they get paid for the valuable textiles that they recover. We are pleased to partner with this burgeoning industry to remove these valuable materials from the waste stream and put them back to work.”
What many do not understand is that recycling textiles is a money-making proposition. Companies such as Simplerecycling (which has a contract with Franklin and nearby Milford as well as other area towns) accept textiles for recycling for free. The company serving Franklin is a for-profit company. By recycling your textiles, you not only save your town money by reducing costs for waste disposal, you will also be supporting local industries that are working to develop this market of recycled textiles.
According to https://recyclesmartma.org/faq/ “One of the biggest misconceptions about donating clothing and textiles is that items must be in good condition. It ends up, clothing and other textiles (bedding, towels, table linens, etc.) are still useful, even if they are stained, ripped, missing buttons, or have broken zippers. As long as items aren’t wet, moldy, or soaked in oil or hazardous materials, they can be donated. If they are unable to be sold for reuse locally, they may be baled and sold to export markets, made into industrial wiping cloths, or converted to fiber for insulation, carpet padding or sound-proofing material.”
Franklin’s Environmental Coordinator, Derek Adams, who manages the town’s recycling center, noted that Franklin has been recycling textiles since he started his position with the town in 2020. Franklin has a system, through https://simplerecycling.com/ for curbside pickup.
Bellingham’s Town Administrator Denis Fraine said, “Bellingham accepts textiles at our Recycling Center on S. Maple Street and has a container for them.”
So, what are you supposed to do with old mattresses? If you are purchasing a new mattress, you can request the seller take your old mattress for recycling. If it’s in good condition you may be able to donate it. Franklin’s recycling center accepts mattresses except those made of foam. Mattresses must be delivered to the Franklin Recycling center on Beaver Street. A valid recycling sticker is required for Franklin residents to access the recycling center.
In Bellingham, the waste disposal company E.L. Harvey & Sons will pick up mattresses curbside for residential customers, but you must call in the request to E.L. Harvey prior to putting the mattress and/or box spring out. There is a $150 fee for pickup of all mattresses and box springs, including foam mattresses. Town Administrator Denis Fraine noted that “Residents can inform the mattress collector of the condition bed bugs or soiled mattress) so they understand there will be a challenge, but residents will be assessed a fee by whoever collects it. For pickup, check the town’s website for details or call E.L. Harvey & Sons at 1-800-321-3002.
Franklin’s Recycling Center is on Beaver Street, almost directly across from Beaver Pond and is open in winter on Friday and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sundays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and additionally from April to November from Noon to 3 p.m. Bellingham’s recycling center is at 119 S. Maple Street. During winter (when the clocks are on standard time) the Bellingham recycling center is open only on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Summer hours include Sundays, same times.
To learn more, a number of websites offer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), contact information to learn more if your concerns are not adequately addressed, and resources for how you can dispose of unwanted items. Check out these links:
• https://www.franklinma.gov/2022-waste-bans/pages/recycling-center information specific to Franklin residents
• https://www.bellinghamma.org/department-public-works/pages/curbside-pickup-solid-waste-recyclables Information specific to Bellingham residents
• https://simplerecycling.com/ Here’s one option for towns to sign up for free textile recycling
• https://recyclesmartma.org/ state guide to information about recycling
• https://www.mass.gov/guides/textile-recovery#-consumer-textile-donation-&-recycling- includes information about Nov. 1 ban