New RI law requires mattress recycling program

Rhode Island is the second state in the nation to adopt a mattress recycling program. Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the legislation into law last week.

Old mattresses are a problem.

"There are also a lot of retailers that don't remove old bedding. The onus remains now on the consumer. So, what do they do? Some of them decide that they're just going to put it on the sidewalk and call the municipality. Others are just going to put it on the sidewalk and not call anybody and hope somebody takes it," said Bill Ciotti of Mattress Express.

Ciotti has been selling mattresses for 20 years and takes away his customers' old bedding. He said he thinks it would be a good idea to have a system to recycle old mattresses.

"We have contracted with a gentleman in Providence that takes it to a recycler out of state," Ciotti said. "He comes in any time we need the bedding removed."

State Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, sponsored the bill to create a recycling council similar to one recently established in Connecticut. He said the council would probably charge a fee up front when the mattress is bought, but it would eventually save money for cities and towns.

"We're hearing $8 to $12. But right now, a city or town -- not counting the labor to go pick that up, not counting the fuel and the truck to go pick that up --- are already spending $10 a unit just to take them to (Rhode Island) Resource Recovery," Handy said.

There's hope a mattress recycling operation could open in Rhode Island, so instead of trucking mattresses out of state, a company could employ some Rhode Islanders to do the work.

The newly established council is supposed to have recommendations on how to recycle mattresses by 2015. While the rule is a government mandate, the legislation calls for the council to keep government out of the whole process as much as possible.