With increasing concern over our throw-away culture, many have asked what happens to those old mattresses and if there is any way to keep them from being in a landfill or incinerated with toxic consequences.
A mattress is one of the most difficult products to recycle due to its complex multi-material structure. One company is Massachusetts developed a minute-and-a-half process, which involves feeding a mattress through a large-scale shredder to break it apart and allow it to be magnetically separated into its individual parts, (foam, cotton, wood, and steel) for resale as raw materials.
A typical mattress is a 23 cubic foot assembly of steel, wood, cotton and polyurethane foam. They have typically been difficult to recycle, and most municipal recycling facilities won't offer to do it for you.
St. Vincent de Paul Society has spearheaded one of the nation's most successful mattress recycling initiatives via its DR3 ("Divert, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle") program.