700 Mattresses Extracted from Waste Stream Each Week in North London Recycling Trial


mattress recycling

North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is proud to announce that from Monday 21 June 2021, a trial of mattress recycling commenced in north London. In line with NLWA’s ambition to extract maximum value from waste, this initiative represents a significant investment in the circular economy, extending the life of valuable materials such as steel, cotton and polyesters. Mattresses are a very difficult product for waste authorities. This is because of their size, the challenge of managing all the range of materials they contain and the sheer numbers of mattresses which are thrown away every year. NLWA is determined to overcome this difficulty. As the second largest waste authority in the UK, serving over 2 million people, the Authority is using its scale to promote mattress recycling, achieve a better environmental outcome and support jobs in and around London delivering this pioneering recycling service. This new service is expected to save hundreds of tonnes of waste per year.

The trial is being delivered in partnership with NLWA’s wholly-owned contractor, LondonEnergy Ltd. Utilising the capacity of NLWA’s newly-acquired Wembley waste transfer station and recycling plant, mattresses which otherwise would have gone to waste will be put aside for collection and recycling. This includes mattresses collected by dedicated fly-tip collection crews who go out daily, clearing illegally dumped waste from north London’s streets. NLWA and partners will start collecting mattresses for recycling from all seven of NLWA’s reuse and recycling centres (RRCs), with dedicated recycling bays in place at two of the sites: Summers Lane in Barnet, and South Access Road in Waltham Forest.

It’s thought that the trial could see up to 700 mattresses recycled every week, equivalent to around 18 tonnes. Mattresses can be made of up to 17 different component materials. North London’s mattresses will go to a recycling facility in London to be deconstructed and separated into component materials. Around 90% of the mattress materials will get recycled, with any remaining non-recyclable material going to energy from waste.

Despite offering one of the most extensive recycling services in the country, and already recycling over 73% of materials brought to RRCs, north London’s recycling rate remains around 30%. Cllr. Clyde Loakes, Chair of NLWA said: “We know there are lots of really committed recyclers in north London. But in order to make meaningful progress in the fight against climate change, everyone needs to do their bit. That means we need Government to lead systemic change through legislation like their proposed deposit return scheme and extended producer responsibility. But we are also going to do whatever we can. That’s why we’ve worked with our partners to try to make the recycling of mattresses – historically hard-to-recycle - a reality in north London. “Along with our constituent boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest, we prioritise and promote the most sustainable management of waste and resources wherever we can. That’s why we have been running our ambitious waste reduction programme for well over a decade now – providing the information and opportunity for residents to extend the life of a whole range of items. And we will continue to innovate, explore and invest so that we find the best possible environmental approach to the management of north London’s waste and recycling - and at every step of the its journey.”

Jim Kendall, Managing Director of LondonEnergy Ltd, said: “At LondonEnergy, we are committed to making our practices as circular as possible: at our RRCs, good quality items are put aside to be sold in our reuse shop; we have increased our capacity to extract recyclables from bulky waste at our Wembley waste transfer station, and, crucially, we provide a sustainable solution to the disposal of non-recyclable waste through our energy from waste plant. “Waste and resources may arrive with us at the point when residents no longer want or need them, but we are determined that doesn’t need to be the end of the line. We are proud to be leading the way with this mattress recycling trial, and excited about the possibilities it offers.”