Partnership for circular mattresses

A group of stakeholders across the Danish waste sector and the mattress industry have initiated a collaboration to find circular solutions for discarded mattresses.


In Denmark, several thousand tons of mattresses end up in the waste stream each year. Today, these discarded mattresses are collected as bulky waste, upholstered furniture, or remain in a mixed residual fraction. Today, only the metal springs in the mattresses are recycled, while the remainder (foam, textile, wood etc.) is incinerated for energy recovery. However, technology that allows recycling of up to 85 % of the materials is available in Europe. The frontrunner in mattress recycling is the Netherlands where approx. 75% of mattresses are collected, dismantled, and recycled into new products.

With the ‘Resource & Waste Management Plan 2024’, The City of Copenhagen set targets of recycling 70% of municipal waste, and tripling the amount of direct reuse by 2024. Greater reuse and recycling of mattresses would contribute to meeting these targets. In May 2021, The City of Copenhagen announced an open call for partners which led to the establishment of a network of both public and private actors across the sector. Collaborations have now started to test mattress collection and treatment, and to test the potential for recycling the polyurethane (PUR) foam used in mattresses.

Testing mattress collection and treatment

A group of public stakeholders have established a partnership focusing on testing the collection and treatment of mattress waste. This collaboration aims to develop a ‘roadmap’ for the reuse and recycling of mattresses in Denmark, leading to a joint public tender for the treatment of mattress waste.

The public partners are currently planning trial collections of mattress waste from three recycling stations (Sydhavnen in Copenhagen, Hillerød and Vejle) and a shipment of mattresses for test treatment in The Netherlands (RetourMatras, Lelystad), a specialised facility for dismantling and recycling mattresses. Results from these tests will demonstrate the recyclability of Danish mattress waste and contribute to the feasibility analysis of a potential Danish mattress collection system. The expectation is to collect and ship the first test batch in early spring 2022.

The public partners are Odsherred Municipality, ARGO, ARC - Amager Ressource Center, The Capital Region of Denmark, Vejle Municipality, I/S Vestforbraending, and the City of Copenhagen.

Test of mechanical recycling of post-consumer PUR foam

To establish a market for mattress recycling in Denmark, we need to understand the potential applications for post-consumer mattress foam, as well as any potential barriers: does the foam harbour unwanted bacterial growth or other substances, and what are the properties and potential applications of the recycled foam?

To answer these questions, the City of Copenhagen has partnered with Bramming Plast-Industri A/S (BPI) who will test post-consumer foam in their mechanical recycling facility normally used to recycle post-industrial PUR foam waste.