John Lewis offers a take-back service whenever customers order a new mattress for delivery. The scheme has been complimented by a partnership with The Furniture Recycling Group (TFRG), helping to divert around 1,500 tonnes of waste from landfill in 2016.

John Lewis’ sustainability manager Ben Thomas praised TFRG’s managing director Nick Oettinger for his “innovative and forward-thinking” to mattress recycling.

“For our mattress recycling service, we knew we needed to find a partner who would be trustworthy and had a plan for the future,” Thomas said. “After conducting thorough research into the industry it became clear that Nick at TFRG was the person we wanted to work with.”

The service sees John Lewis pick up customers’ old mattresses and take them to a distribution hub, where the products are sent to TFRG to be broken down into their components using an innovative new mattress scheme. The components are then repurposed and reused by TFRG to manufacture new, high-quality quality mattresses.

Going forward, the retailer has expressed a desire to extend its partnership with TFRG. “In the future we hope to go even further and find new uses for the materials extracted from the mattresses we send to TFRG, to help close the loop on waste,” Thomas said. “With the help of Nick and his team, we’re very optimistic about the future of mattress recycling.”

Spring into action

An estimated 167,000 tonnes of mattresses are sent to landfill each year in the UK. The recycling process, which has historically required pocket springs to be dismantled manually, can take be as long as half a day for a single mattress.

To combat the issue, TFRG recently designed and developed the world’s first automated pocket-spring recycling machine. The machine separates the plastic surrounding pocket springs and the springs themselves to leave two products that have a value and can be sold on, re-used as scrap or recycled.

Commenting on the John Lewis partnership, Nick Oettinger said: “We’re very proud that John Lewis chose to work with us on this project, and it’s so reassuring to see retailers are now thinking about the end-of-life scenario for their products. Since launch we have diverted over one million mattresses and 3,500 tonnes of mattress components from landfill, and with John Lewis on board we can look to see these promising figures growing more and more.”

Bedding in a circular model

TFR Group works with businesses from a range of sectors; from major hotel companies to high street retail chains. Last summer, for example, the firm partnered with the University of St Andrews in Scotland to transform textile recycling process in the University’s student accommodation. More than 2000 mattresses, duvets and pillows have been donated for recycling and re-use by the University’s student body. 

Speaking to edie exclusively, Oettinger called on British mattress manufacturers to take the lead on producer responsibility schemes, which he said could significantly reduce the sector’s vast waste-to-landfill rates.

With consumer awareness around mattress recycling on the rise, Oettinger said that retailers should act accordingly by making take-back offers available at point-of-sale in store and online.

George Ogleby

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