Vancouver’s Mattress Problem
From batteries to tires, a lot of used items are recycled by their manufacturers.
It’s called extended producer responsibility or EPR, and here in B.C., there are 18 of these programs across various industries.
Since 2012, the Metro Vancouver regional district has been trying without success to convince the province to make manufacturers responsible for used mattresses and other bulky furniture.
With a new provincial government coming in, an EPR program for these big items may be put in place.
A staff report in the agenda Thursday (July 13) of the district’s zero waste committee recommends a new request be sent to the ministry of environment regarding this proposed measure.
“If a province-wide EPR program for mattress were implemented, municipalities should see a reduction in costs for managing illegally dumped mattresses,” according to the report written by environmental planner Andrew Doi.
Doi also cited key findings of a study conducted by an engineering consultancy firm about the benefits of an EPR program for mattresses.
According to the study by Morrison Hershfield, an EPR program will save municipalities at least $5 million a year in picking up used mattresses.
The same study showed that around 10,000 mattresses are abandoned in the region every year.
Around 165,000 mattresses are collected and recycled each year.
With an EPR program, the recycling of used mattresses is estimated to increase to 269,000.
Mattresses have been banned from Metro Vancouver disposal facilities since 2011.
People wanting to dispose their mattresses can dropped these materials at transfer stations and pay $15 for each mattress.
“Currently, the cost of a mattress at the point of purchase does not reflect any of the additional costs that the mattress poses after its end of life,” according to the Morrison Hershfield study. “Subsequently, rate payers pay the collection and disposal cost of a used mattress by incurring a drop-off fee at a transfer station, hiring collection privately or paying via municipal taxes for large item pick up, together with the cost to deal with illegally dumped materials (through municipal taxes).”