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Brussels region reaches deal with mattress manufacturers over disposal

08:48 25/04/2023

The Brussels region and the mattress manufacturing sector has reached an agreement when over the recycling of old mattresses.

Such a mattress recycling process did not previously exist in Brussels, which resulted in the incineration of a huge number of mattresses: a volume equivalent to the double the height of the 38-storey (148m) Tour du Midi skyscraper.

The lack of a proper recycling process also resulted in an increase in illegal dumping, according to Brussels environment minister Alain Maron (Ecolo).

“All too often, end-of-life mattresses turn into illegal dumps and cause problems of public cleanliness,” a statement from Maron’s office reads.

“The aim is to reduce the environmental impact of this bulky flow by stimulating selective collection and recycling.

"From now on, the Brussels region will impose precise and increasing collection and recycling objectives on mattress producers, through a draft environmental agreement that has been ratified with Valumat, the organisation that represents them.”

In concrete terms, Brussels Environment will organise the separate collection of used mattresses in the city’s Recyparks. The mattresses are stored in containers to protect them from the weather and keep them in a condition suitable for recycling.

Retailers can also offer their customers the opportunity to take back their old mattress in exchange for a fixed compensation paid by Valumat.

Retailers who do not want to or cannot take part in this process must still inform their customers of the collection options.

At the end of the chain, the used mattresses are taken back by Valumat, which processes them at its own expense and can use the materials to manufacture acoustic and thermal insulation or even sports equipment.

“Prevention and good waste management are essential levers for climate and economic transition,” Maron said.

“Each avoided or sorted waste is a resource saved or that can have a second life, a resource that does not have to be produced and that therefore costs less, for the wallet and for the planet.”

The project fits into the regional strategy to make the region cleaner in the long term and after being validated by the Brussels government last week, it is now subject to public consultation.

Photo: Dirk Waem/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons