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Textiles, mattresses must be recycled after Nov. 1

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Starting Nov. 1, textiles and mattresses will be added to Massachusetts’ solid waste ban. This means that these materials will no longer be able to go in the regular trash and instead will have to be recycled.

This is a part of the state’s solid-waste master plan, which establishes goals to reduce the state’s waste by 30 percent in the next decade. Massachusetts has both a limited and diminishing capacity at landfills and combustion facilities, reports Shannon Lindlau, town solid-waste and diversion compliance officer.

 Mattresses are particularly bulky and hard to dispose of, and the state Department of Environmental Protection estimates that 200,000 mattresses and box springs are sent for disposal from residents in Massachusetts each year. That number increases to about 600,000 if you count commercial and institutional sourcesThat’s 17,000 tons of mattresses going to incinerator.

230 tons of textiles discarded annually

Massachusetts residents and businesses also dispose of about 230,000 tons of textiles per year, and about 95 percent of that could be reused or recycled.

 Not only will diverting these materials from the waste stream prevent more material from going to landfill or waste combustors, but also a majority the waste from textiles and mattresses can be easily recycled.

For example, foam padding from mattresses can be repurposed into carpet underlayment or animal bedding, and the springs of box springs are often already made from recycled scrap metal, and can also be recycled as scrap once again.

When such textiles as clothing are recycled, they are generally sorted into grades by the recycler, and about 45 percent are sold to second-hand clothing stores here and abroad for reuse. The rest of the material can be repurposed as rags and wipes that are used by commercial garages and other public works operationsSome materials are also broken down to their fibers and used for insulation, carpet padding or soundproofing materials. 

Creates jobs, funds for schools

Diverting materials to be reused and recycled also creates jobs and other economic stimulus for Massachusetts and elsewhere. For example, the upcoming waste ban also further limits the amount of organic waste commercial operations can dispose of in the trash. One study shows that the initial commercial food-waste disposal ban in 2014 created hundreds of new jobs and increased the gross state product by $77 million.

For residents, the main thing to know about the upcoming waste ban is that it will change the way we are able to dispose of mattresses and textiles. Likely, many people choose to donate or recycle textiles already.

For example, Arlington public schools are participating in a textile-recycling competition.  All Arlington elementary and middle schools have a Bay State Textiles bin on the school grounds and the schools earn funds for every ton they collect. Since the start of the program in 2018, the Arlington schools have collected over 580,000 pounds of textiles and earned over $29,000 for the district.

With the upcoming waste ban, the Town will partner with a private textile recycler to offer and promote curbside (and free) textile pickup. As far as mattresses go, residents are able to put out one bulky item per week with their trash and recyclables for curbside pickup, which can include a mattress and a box spring.

Unfortunately, this fall, residents can expect that mattresses will now require a fee and likely also an appointment to be picked up curbside to be recycled as opposed to be disposed of as trash and incinerated.

For more information about location of textile drop-off bins please go to ArlingtonMA.gov/recycle


This news announcements was published May 26, 2022.

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