New Burlington business rips up, recycles cast-off mattress

When a mattress bites the dust at Sleep Well Recycling in Burlington, human hands compose the loud soundtrack of the deconstruction.

Three employees – only three so far – put dozens of those unwieldy, unwanted loads onto something like a chopping block for just three weeks.

What sounds violent is really a prelude to something beautiful, says owner and founder Josh Costa: This is Vermont’s first business dedicated to recycling mattresses.

Knife cut fabric; Sledgehammers knock steel coils from their wooden frames; Bent wire racks crack like pools when stacked in a dumpster designed for metal rescue.

When the noise subsided, 30-year-old Costa speaks quietly about his mission. He wants to save every old mattress in the state from its usual burial in a landfill – a funeral that wastes notoriously valuable space while it takes decades (if not longer) to resolve the issue.

“We currently have about 350 mattresses here,” said Costa on Tuesday, suggesting what could be a credible set for “The Princess and the Pea” in a theater.

“It’s amazing how these would look on a piece of land in a landfill,” said Costa.

Also amazing: a week after the store opened in early August, an armada of discarded mattresses paid the first month’s rent in their warehouse on Intervale Road several times.

Hundreds more mattresses are in the pipeline of the Spruce Peak Resort, whose beds are currently being massively modernized.

“It’s been an idea of ​​mine for a long time,” said Costa. “I’ve always wanted to get trashed and trashed in some way. And it turns out that the tedious task of ripping open mattresses is the ticket. “

“Recycle well, sleep well”

The price of a mattress does not include the cost of disposal at the dump.

Costa’s customers in the Burlington area pay close to $ 20 per mattress – roughly what they would spend on a truck trip to the Coventry landfill.

Unscrupulous residents throw old mattresses on sidewalks and green spaces, leaving the city or its landlord with the tab.

A discarded mattress is left on a greenway on St. Paul Street in Burlington on August 17, 2020.  Mattresses are expensive to dispose of, take up valuable landfill space and are difficult to recycle.

Costa offers a soul ointment to people with concerns. His business motto: “Recycle well, sleep well.”

Nuts, bolts, staples and “mystery stuff”

According to the Sleep Well Recycling website, up to 95% of the parts of a mattress can be recycled if they are properly separated after deconstruction.

It’s a high, challenging target, Costa said, but he shoots at it:

  • All Metals Recycling in Williston buys the spring assemblies.
  • Foam pads are similarly transformed into new products such as underlay pads for carpets.
  • Clean wood waste is brought to the nearby McNeil Power Plant to be burned as fuel.
  • Intact pine box-spring frames are altered in other ways: “We had about 30 over the weekend,” said Costa. “I posted them on Facebook for free and people grabbed every single one of them.”
  • Scraps of fabric are harder to market, he added, as is “mysterious stuff” – a black waterproof lining that “looks like it’s made from recycled material”.

Mattress recycling as a stress reliever

Costa has seen his share of material casts.

His first high school job in Nashua, New Hampshire was sorting out lifeless electronics and separating precious metals.

After moving to Vermont to attend Champlain College, Costa worked with the local franchise 1-800-GOT-JUNK, a transportation company.

He currently works full-time in the environmental depot of the Chittenden Solids Waste District and manages hazardous waste.

“Sleep Well Recycling,” said Costa, is a side appearance he couldn’t do without his 20-year-old brother Cameron.

Cameron Costa, 20, cuts a fabric cover from a mattress he is disassembling at Sleep Well Recycling in Burlington on August 17, 2020.

The younger Costa has no official job title, his boss wrote in a text, “but Cam is my right-hand man, manager, workhorse No. -1, backbone / brain; he is the company’s renaissance man and the main divider.”

Cameron, who is enrolled as a finance major at Babson College in Massachusetts, said he will be on board while the semester classes stay online.

These are uncertain, even overwhelming times, added Cameron. “But here you can just forget your worries and tear up a few mattresses.”

What can you do with your old mattress?

resource On Pine Street in Burlington, mattresses “as good as new” (with no tears, stains, odors, animal fur, and mildew) are accepted for later sale to the public.

Chittenden Solid Waste DistrictThe company, which is no longer accepting mattresses at its drop-off points this spring due to pandemic-related issues, will welcome them (and other bulky pieces of furniture) back in a matter of weeks.

Casella waste systemsThe company, which typically relies on CSWD to deliver discarded mattresses to its handover station in Williston for disposal in landfills, is currently accepting levies for a fee of $ 15.86. Pickup costs between $ 25 and $ 50, depending on location and circumstances.

Myers Container Service Mattresses dropped off at the Colchester Transfer Station will be charged $ 35. Mattresses are taken to a landfill.

Josh Costa, 30, founder and owner of Sleep Well Recycling, stands next to a pile of mostly dismantled mattresses in his Burlington warehouse on August 17, 2020.

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

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