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David Perry

National recycling approach wise idea for our industry

April 10, 2012

There is a dangerous strain of thinking among some in the industry these days about how to tackle the mattress recycling issue. It holds that the industry should hunker down, stall for time, and hope for the best.

This minority school of thought maintains that the industry should not unite and work for a national solution to the problems of unsanitary used and renovated mattresses and rapidly filling landfills.

And don't suggest that the industry's approach to the fire-resistant mattress issue, which saw the International Sleep Products Assn. support a national standard that ultimately went into effect, provides a good model on the recycling front, these critics say. That wasn't such a good idea, they now contend.

Alas, those critics have forgotten why ISPA took action on the FR issue in the first place.

The fact is, the industry had the expertise and the wisdom to support a national FR standard, which went into effect in 2007 and will save many lives over the years. Aggressive and costly regulation in California opened the industry's eyes to the FR issue, and it made a prudent move to work with federal regulators to develop a workable national FR standard.

There was some initial angst that a national FR standard would add crippling costs to mattresses, but that didn't turn out to be the case.

Now, as individual states target mattress recycling issues, ISPA is wisely urging a national approach: federal legislation to spell out how used beds should be handled and how they should be disposed of. The legislation would encourage recycling programs around the country. And make no mistake about it: The best way to get old, unsanitary mattresses out of circulation is to tear them apart and to recycle the ingredients.

The mattress industry is a national industry, with many national players. State by state regulation of FR issues or recycling issues would present the industry with a nightmare of varying regulations.

ISPA officials and industry leaders worked with the federal government in establishing the FR standard, and obviously have the skill and ability to do the same with mattress recycling.

The federal approach that ISPA proposes will be less costly and burdensome than some pending state bills, and would impose no used product collection obligations on mattress retailers or manufacturers. And, importantly, it will make a statement to consumers about our industry's commitment to protecting the environment.

Every legitimate bedding producer and retailer wins with a national recycling standard. Consumers win, too. This is not a time for retreat and denial. Instead it is a time for our leaders to press ahead, with courage and determination. Let's get a national standard in place.