ISPA revamps California mattress recycling strategy
David Perry -- Furniture Today, September 2, 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - When an industry-unfriendly mattress recycling bill was defeated by just five votes here last year, bedding officials had a "Eureka" moment.
They realized a new strategy was needed.
And so this year they returned to the Neoclassic state Capitol here, situated on a wooded, garden-accented campus downtown in this capital city, with a grassroots campaign and a new industry-friendly mattress recycling proposal, one that is making progress on what its supporters hope will be a successful journey through the California Assembly in the next few weeks.
Success in California would be a major victory for the mattress industry; what happens in California is watched closely by officials in other states.
And it would mark a change in the climate in California, where a bill to put the responsibility for mattress recycling on producers would have imposed high costs on bedding producers. That was the bill narrowly defeated here last year.
Ryan Trainer, president of the International Sleep Products Assn., had favored a federal approach to the mattress recycling issue, a logical move given that mattress recycling is an issue in states across the country.
But that close call in California and a lack of interest in Congress in a national mattress law led ISPA's leadership to shelve their plans for federal legislation in favor of working with legislators, who, in state capitals across the country, were increasingly looking at mattress recycling issues.
It's appropriate that ISPA's leaders had a "Eureka" insight in California, a state that has featured that word in its state seal since 1849. Eureka, which means "I have found it," is a reference to the famous discovery of gold in California near Sutter's Mill in 1848. That site is about 36 miles northeast of Sacramento.
ISPA's revamped strategy for California called for the creation of Californians for Mattress Recycling, an educational/grassroots group headed by veteran California public relations executive Shelly Sullivan, who has more than two decades of experience working with California legislators on a variety of issues.
And ISPA officials helped craft a new bill, one based on the successful model for paint and carpet recycling programs already in place in California. It would create a nonprofit organization to implement a statewide mattress recycling program, sustained by creating a nominal fee at retail on the sale of new mattresses and box springs.
Sen. Lou Correa, a Democrat who represents Santa Ana, introduced that bill earlier this year, where it was merged with an earlier recycling bill authored by Sen. Loni Hancock. The merged bill has cleared key hurdles in the Senate and the Assembly.
Correa told Furniture/Today that the new bill, SB 254, "strikes a balance that incentivizes Californians to recycle used mattresses , thus easing the burden on our landfills and communities, while retaining valuable employers, creating new jobs and business opportunities."
He said the bill "represents a meaningful solution developed by mattress producers, renovators, retailers and the environmental community."
Sullivan and ISPA's leaders have worked hard to win support for the bill. Trainer and Chris Hudgins, ISPA's vice president for governmental affairs, have made almost a dozen cross-country trips to Sacramento, meeting with key legislators and touting the advantages of an industry-supported recycling campaign. Sullivan, based in Sacramento, will moderate a press conference on the Capitol steps this week to drum up more support for the bill. She says the measure "is a fantastic illustration as to what is possible" when various interests work together.
The bill has a broad range of support from industry, retailers, recyclers, cities and counties, local elected officials and waste management organizations, Sullivan said. She says the press conference is a call to action for the bill's backers and coalition partners to voice their support before the bill reaches the Assembly floor for a vote. Calls and letters from supporters to California legislators would be helpful, Sullivan said.
"A lot has been accomplished," she reflected. "But more work remains in the final weeks of California's legislative session."