Exploring the Carbon Savings of Mattress Recycling With FRC Group

Most people in Liverpool will have seen the purple Bulky Bob’s (www.bulkybobs.co.uk) van out on the streets. Residents can contact Bulky Bob’s to collect their large household waste – items such as sofas, tables, fridges, and televisions that are too big to be picked up by regular waste collections.

Bulky Bob’s refurbishes these preloved items to help combat ‘furniture poverty’ for low income families and those in need. The company is part of FRC Group, a Liverpool social enterprise and charity, and operates the free collection service on behalf of Liverpool City Council.

They came to Clean Growth UK at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) for help with one item in particular – mattresses. Most mattresses end up in landfill, where they take decades to decompose and produce harmful landfill gases such as methane and carbon dioxide.

Bulky Bob’s was considering a mattress recycling project and wanted to calculate the carbon benefit of recycling against sending mattresses to landfill. Little data was available on the subject, and so our LJMU researchers carried out a Life Carbon Assessment. This calculated the embodied carbon in the entire mattress production process, from raw materials to transport, production and waste management.

They also calculated the embodied carbon in the mattress recycling process. By comparing the two results, our researchers determined that mattress recycling offers a substantial reduction in embodied carbon emissions, by cutting out landfill gases and reducing the demand for raw materials.

Further underpinning this research, Clean Growth UK is now supporting FRC Group with a circular economy project and product development by conducting feasibility tests for turning mattress waste in to insulation.

Shaun Doran, Bulky Bob’s CEO, said: “The support that we have received has enabled us to set up a new service area and we now have plans to take things even further with more support from the university”.