JBS Fibre Recovery Takes Leadership Role in UK Mattress Recycling

Only two years after launch, independent operator recycles 950,000 mattresses

4 women carry mattress while moving
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While many jurisdictions still struggle to set up an effective mattress recycling policy environment, JBS Fibre Recovery Ltd has quickly established itself as the largest mattress recycling enterprise in the UK. Its genesis began through its parent company, JBS Waste Management Ltd, which was increasingly concerned about sustainable disposal of ‘difficult’ waste streams, including mattresses, bulky furniture, carpet and others.

JBS Fibre Recovery reports that it recycled more than 250,000 mattresses annually from throughout the UK in 2012-2013, diverting 60,000 tonnes of waste from landfills, and reported in 2013 that it would have a 1.4 million mattress recycling capacity by the end of 2013. It operates from sites in Telford, Trowbridge and Bridgend. In May 2013, it was acknowledged at the Let’s Recycle Awards for Excellence in Recycling, winning the award as Recycling Business of the Year.

Speaking at the event, John Neill, Director of JBS Fibre Recovery said that mattress are problematic and that many facilities do not have the resources to process them effectively, pointing to recovery rates often below 50 percent, with the remainder still being landfilled. Utilizing a highly trained workforce and sophisticated technology, JBS Fibre Recovery achieves 100 percent recycling and reuse.

The company recycled 5,000 mattresses from the athletes' village at the 2012 London Olympic Games, resulting in a 20,000-tonne diversion from landfills.

JBS Fibre works with various stakeholders from across both public and private sectors, including Marks & Spencer, to secure mattresses for recycling. It has recently secured exclusive contracts to recycle used mattresses from leading brands including mattress retailers Argos and Silentnight, as well as the hotel chain Travelodge.

JBS Mattress Multi-Stage Recycling Process

BBS Fibre Recovery says that it uses a five-stage recycling process for mattresses.

  • In the first stage, the outer fabric is removed, washed and baled. The clean fabric can then be shredded and recycled into fibres that are spun and woven. Heavily soiled fabric is destined for energy generation.
  • After the outer material has been removed, the white flock, which is derived from cotton, is then cleaned and recycled to utilize as hemp or cotton yarn.
  • Black felt, found in the low-grade base of the mattress is stripped. After processing, it can be sold back to the automotive sector as interior vehicle matting.
  • Polyurethane (PU) foam is then removed, washed and shredded, before being dispatched to JBS’s plant in Milton Keynes, where it is used in the manufacturing of carpet underlay. The recovery of PU enables the company to divert 2,000 tonnes of this material from landfills on a monthly basis.
  • Finally, when all the fibres and materials have been removed, the mattress’s steel spring base is furnace-processed, exposed to heat up to 1,700 ̊F. in order to liquidize the metal for recycling.

Furniture Recycling

JBS also recycles bulk furniture such as stuffed chairs and sofas.

Fibre is recovered, as well as frames, polymers and leather. sofas and chairs both mixed fibre and leather. The company is able to provide detailed materials audits, as it does in its mattress recycling business. JBS states that its recycling solution offers a 98 percent recycling rate for sofas and chairs.

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