Mattress recyclers brace for influx of dead beds

New Metro disposal fee expected to be boon for business



Video courtesy of Metro Vancouver

You’ll have to pay to get rid of an old mattress from now on in Metro Vancouver.

The regional district has started charging a $20 disposal fee on mattresses and box springs that arrive at local transfer stations effective Jan. 1 to help subsidize the costs of recycling them and avoid clogging the landfill.

The change is just what Zac Plavsic has been lobbying for.

The Beijing Olympic windsurfer is one of four young partners who co-founded mattressrecycling.ca two years ago to offer a green solution to the old mattress problem in the region.

They realized more than 100,000 mattresses a year were ending up in the garbage in the Lower Mainland – an huge waste of resources considering they’re more than 90 per cent recyclable.

“We said this is ridiculous,” Plavsic said. “It’s the equivalent of two times the volume of B.C. Place. That’s a pretty big difference if we’re able to remove that from the landfill.”

Nobody was attempting to recycle mattresses west of Toronto, so the partners – including Fabio Scaldaferri, who was running a successful student landscaping firm – decided to take the plunge.

Zac Plavsic was an Olympic windsurfer for Canada before joining friends in the mattress recycling business.

They now charge residents $14 to responsibly recycle old mattresses, with volume rates available for regular suppliers like hospitals, universities and hotels.

Most of the $20 fee Metro charges at transfer stations will go to mattressrecycliing.ca, provided a competitor doesn’t start up.

Inside their warehouse, a mattress can be disassembled in as little as five minutes.

The metal from the springs go to metal recyclers.

The polyurethane foam gets chipped up for use in carpet underlay.

Wood and cotton go to whoever has a use for them.

Plavsic says the venture is far from lucrative.

“It’s a very labour-intensive process,” he said. “It’s pretty much a breakeven business. We’re trying to do a service for the environment.”

But they’re bracing for big change.

With mattresses banned from the dump and the Metro fee now in place, they expect to process 40,000 to 80,000 beds this year – as much as a ten-fold increase from less than 8,000 in 2010.

As for the disposal fee, Plavsic argues it’s not unreasonable.

He notes larger televisions are now sold with a $31.75 environmental fee tacked on to cover future recycling costs and e-waste depot operations.

“When you buy a $1,500 mattress, you’re not paying any recycling fee for that.”

He’s aware of concerns that the new disposal fee could prompt more illegal dumping but he’s hopeful that won’t happen.

Residents can avoid paying the full $20 Metro fee by dropping a mattress off at mattressrecycling.ca in person, donating them when possible (call the Recycling Council of B.C. at 604-RECYCLE or see www.metrovancouverrecycles.org) or by having a retailer take the old mattress back when buying a new one.

Dropping off other garbage at a transfer station also now costs more.

Metro raised its tipping fees 18 per cent from $82 to $97 per tonne Jan. 1.

The tipping fee for yard and garden waste, including food waste and wood waste, rose from $59 to $63 per tonne. The minimum dumping fee is $10 for small loads or $20 at peak times at some transfer stations.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Fuel truck hits train in Port Coquitlam, causing massive fire

CP Rail reporting no injuries, driver of truck is safe.

What the 2016 Census tells us about Surrey

The City of Surrey, by the numbers

ZYTARUK: Only the truth, and nothing but

Lying hurts all of us. You, me, them. All of us.

City removes signs opposing housing development at Surrey golf course

While opponents claim political interference, City of Surrey says signs were not lawfully erected

UPDATE: Brother of teen killed by stray bullet in Vancouver says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down while on his way home from dinner with his family

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Movie filmed in Castlegar B.C. opens Friday

Hollow in the Land starring Dianna Agron will be playing in select cinemas.

Semi rollover on Highway 3

Highway 3 is reduced to single-alternating lanes

Most Read