Retourmatras recycles 1m mattresses

Ingka Group, in partnership with Retourmatras, hosted an event on 13 March, spotlighting the objectives of a “circular economy” for mattress recycling.

The gathering unfolded at Retourmatras’s recycling facility in Lelystad, the Netherlands, which commenced operations in 2010. This event served as a forum for policymakers and industry experts from various European regions to deliberate on strategies aimed at optimizing the potential of circular initiatives.

Chico van Hemert, the managing director of Retourmatras, expressed satisfaction with the sector’s advancement, highlighting the dismantling of “over 1 million mattresses in 2023 alone.” This concerted effort reportedly led to a reduction of 76 million kilograms of CO2 emissions compared to traditional incineration methods.

Van Hemert also underscored the environmental dilemma posed by the increasing volume of discarded mattresses, with approximately 6.4 million mattresses ending up in landfills, incinerators, or abandoned annually. This not only strains landfill capacities but also exacerbates CO2 emissions and environmental degradation on a significant scale.

Legislative Adaptations

Established in 2010, Retourmatras embarked on a mission to tackle this challenge, partnering with Ingka Investment. As legislative frameworks evolved, Retourmatras adjusted its strategies to align with emerging environmental regulations. The introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes across Europe and shifts in consumer attitudes underscored the urgency of addressing mattress waste, prompting Retourmatras to intensify its efforts in driving sustainable solutions.

Operational Excellence

At the heart of Retourmatras’s operations lies a dismantling process designed to maximize the value extracted from discarded mattresses. With a dismantling capacity of 1.7 million units annually in the Netherlands alone, the company achieves an impressive 80% material recovery rate, resulting in significant reductions in CO2 emissions.

Market Dynamics and Collaboration

Peter van der Poel of the Ingka group highlighted the variations in mattress recycling operations between the Netherlands and the UK post-Brexit. While specific details were not disclosed, Retour Matras’s recent acquisition of a furniture recycling company has facilitated knowledge exchange between the two entities.

In the UK, mattress rejuvenation alongside recycling has gained traction, offering opportunities for extending mattress lifespans. Despite being in the early stages of collaboration, the UK market holds strategic importance for IKEA, prompting explorations into potential capabilities available there.

Regarding the incorporation of recycled materials into IKEA mattresses in the UK market, current practices indicate that none of the collected materials are utilized. However, plans are underway to potentially supply materials from UK operations to IKEA suppliers in the future.

Expansion Strategies

Retourmatras has expanded its footprint across Europe, including operations in the UK, Denmark, and Belgium, with plans for further expansion into the French market.

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