Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Getting beds (Sep19)

I received an email last week giving me some shocking information about the number of mattresses that are discarded in the UK every year.  Enough, apparently to completely cover the M25 in both directions, the M1 between Leeds and London and all 8 lanes of the M4 between Swansea and London. Wow!

Next week, I’m going to be adding to their number. However, our discarded mattresses are going to be recycled. They’re being picked up by Naturalmat, when they come to deliver a new bed.  This is very much the exception.  Most mattresses end up in landfill sites, which is pretty monstrous.   

Naturalmat are working with the Furniture Reycycling Group who process the non Naturalmat old mattresses – about 7,000 per week!  For Naturalmat mattresses they’re investigating making them into alternative products like pet bedding.  Even better they are working on a refurbishment service for mattresses, to prevent them being thrown away at all.  

TFR Group will not rest until 100% of all mattresses in the UK are diverted from landfill, recycled and fed back into the economy as pristine new materials. Only when they succeed in creating a truly circular economy can they create a sustainable and comfortable future for the generations to come.

When I was buying a new mattress from Naturalmat, I was very keen to specify one made from recycled denim, which means that offcuts from the clothing industry are given a second lease of life.  They also use coir in their natural fibre mattresses, which is made from the husks of coconuts.  However, the filling for most of their other mattress comes from locally sourced organic wool, which they buy direct from farmers. This ensures a better price for the producers and better quality wool for Naturalmat.  

I know that Naturalmat are working on extending the life of their beds, but I don’t know how they compete with the company that sent me the email about how many mattresses are thrown away each year. Ammique claim that their ‘sustainable’ bed will last at least 200 years, with a new patented technology.  My youngest son is sleeping in an old wooden bed which belonged to my grand-mother, but I think he’d be horrified if we hadn’t changed the mattress since she bought it in the late 1920s!  

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