In Short

State Legislature moves towards approval of a mattress recycling program

By: - February 25, 2022 3:11 pm
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Lawmakers have advanced a bill that would create a recycling program for mattresses. (Getty Images)

Getting rid of an old mattress in Oregon can be a challenge but legislators are about to help.

Senate Bill 1576 would add a fee to mattress sales to fund a new recycling program. A privately organized recycling entity would be set up to collect and recycle mattresses and box springs. 

The entity, overseen by the state Department of Environmental Quality, would have to establish one collection site in every county, with an additional 25 sites scattered around the state.

After approval by the Senate Energy and Environment Committee and the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, the proposal was endorsed on Friday by a majority in the Senate. It won 18 votes, with seven Republicans voting against it. 

Opponents call the fee a “bedroom tax.” 

The Taxpayers Association of Oregon acknowledged in an editorial that the proposal has a positive side: “This bill sets up a dedicated revenue stream with private sector involvement to fix a specific and pervasive problem,” the association wrote. “Similar efforts have worked.”

But the association opposes the fee.  

The proposal is now in the House for consideration.

“We’re taking action and building on Oregon’s legacy of environmental protection,” Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said in a statement Friday. He is a chief sponsor of the bill.

“In 2009, Oregon became the first state in the nation to enact an environmental stewardship program for paint products,” Dembrow said. “Oregon has led on product stewardship programs for discarded electronics and unused medicines. This legislation will protect our environment, conserve resources and create meaningful jobs.”

The bill was championed by Sen. James Manning Jr., D-Eugene, who said the idea was proposed by St. Vincent de Paul, which recycles mattresses along with electronics, large appliances and other items. Dembrow said there’s a lot of interest among recyclers like De Vincent to expand their work.

“It is an excellent opportunity to reduce waste, as well as employ up to 100 Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Manning said.

Mattresses that are infested with bed bugs are destroyed. The others are taken apart, and reusable parts are used for other products. For example, the steel wire in mattresses and box springs is melted down and reused. Foam is cleaned and turned into new products.

At least three other states – California, Connecticut and Rhode Island – have mattress recycling programs. They, too, are funded by a fee on mattress sales. A legislative report on the bill said that fees range from $9 to $16 per mattress.




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Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years.