Mattress recycling for the circular economy

For the Mattress Alliance founded in 2021, realcycle is working on various sub-projects as part of a FOEN environmental technology funding project to increase the circularity of mattresses in Switzerland:

Eco-design sub-project
A sustainable circular economy starts with design. Only suitable design can ensure that resource consumption is minimized, longevity is guaranteed and that the service life is extended or returned to the cycle without hesitation. The Eco-Design sub-project is therefore investigating various eco-design options for mattresses in collaboration with mattress manufacturers. Within the sub-project, for example, the use of secondary foam in the mattress, the omission of adhesive through special cutting technology and the use of bio-based plastics were investigated.

Digital Product Passport (DPP) sub-project
A digital product passport (DPP) is to be introduced to simplify the recycling of mattresses. The digital product passport enables the recycler to identify which materials are present in the mattress. The product passport thus enables better pre-sorting, efficient processing and closing the loop by providing stakeholders along the entire value chain with relevant information. It also creates transparency in the sustainability figures.

Previous research and interviews with stakeholders have shown that important decisions need to be made within the industry regarding DPP: Technology, provider, content. Proposals and a procedure for preparing for the DPP have already been drawn up:

  • Based on the EU Battery Regulation and the specifications for battery DPPs, the content of a mattress DPP can be derived. First and foremost, information on the materials is important: which materials are used, where do they come from, do they contain secondary materials, etc.? This information is relevant for both customers and recyclers, as it should enable faster and better recycling.
  • Secondly, information on the environmental impact of the mattresses is important. For example, the CO2 footprint of the product is stated here.
  • The data carrier for the information can be a QR code, an RFID or an NFC chip.
  • There are already various providers for DPPs, some specifically for mattresses. However, each company should be free to choose its own provider; no provider will be specified in the EU either.

How can companies prepare for the DPP?

  1. Anchoring the idea of the district blue economy and motivation for DPP in the company
  2. Collect data on company supply chains and processes
  3. Inform all affected departments about DPP and discuss and evaluate potentials, ideas and requirements in each case.
  4. Gather information on different DPP providers
  5. Check compatibility with software and IT systems within the company
  6. Review options for data storage of DPP data within the company.

The entire IT structure was also identified as a challenge. To assist companies, a workshop with IT experts will be held at the beginning of December 2023 in order to optimally prepare for the introduction of the DPP.

Sub-project Sales market for secondary products
Successful recycling can only take place if the products from recycling also have a meaningful use. To this end, sales markets and intended uses for the foams and textiles from mattress recycling are identified. The findings from the investigations into the sales markets are then fed back into the eco-design project to determine the most suitable materials.

Organization of the project

The project is supported by the FOEN's Environmental Technology Fund and is being carried out by realcycle in collaboration with the Mattress Alliance and the Pusch Foundation.


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