…and Miles to Go Before We Sleep
Since 2016, Californians have paid an extra fee for each mattress and box spring to establish and support recycling of those items. The Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), a product stewardship organization that runs the program they call Bye Bye Mattress, is in control of the development and implementation of the California’s mattress recycling system.
As Director of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, serving California’s northernmost rural coastal community, I am all too familiar with the disappointment and frustration of seeing mattresses illegally dumped. As the newest Board member to CPSC, I am eager to improve programs that can reduce such blight.
Both transportation and disposal costs are higher in our rural area. Since the closure of our County’s last landfill in 2005, all materials bound for disposal f
rom the Del Norte County Transfer Station are transported over 110 miles to the nearest landfill in Oregon.
From the outset of the MRC program, there has been communication by myself and others on ensuring the convenience for the public to recycle their mattress and to prevent illegal dumping. Illegal dumping is a problem in both urban and rural jurisdictions and the primary driver for the passage of the enabling legislation SB 254 (Hancock) and SB 1274 (Hancock).
Based on our County’s proportion of California’s population, our staff estimates that approximately 2,700 mattresses sold in Del Norte last year, yielding revenues of over $28,000 to the MRC from Del Norte County. In return for this revenue, MRC helped support three days of mattress collection events in Del Norte County in 2017, managing 950 mattresses and box springs – about one third of our annual total. Due to contractual obligations, MRC is unable to host a free collection site at the Del Norte transfer station, but that should not prevent MRC from establishing a daily collection site somewhere else in the County.
To their credit, MRC staff proposed periodic one-day collection events for mattresses in Del Norte, for which MRC provides trailers and shipping and pay transfer station operations costs associated with loading mattresses on that day. MRC has successfully negotiated a half-day per week free mattress collection at Humboldt moving and storage (9AM – 1 PM every Wednesday). During these MRC events, Del Norte residents can bring up to four mattresses or box springs for no charge. For each ‘free’ mattress event, MRC pays our operations contractor (Hambro/WSG or HWSG) an amount per mattress that is less than the amount HWSG would receive on a daily basis. So holding ‘free’ events reduces HWSG’s (and our agency’s) revenue, and creates an incentive for customers to hold onto their mattresses for the next event.
Nevertheless, to balance the privilege of managing the advance recycling fees on mattresses, MRC should be obliged to provide at least one location for daily mattress recycling drop-off in each California County. We conclude that the value of the advance recycling fees collected from our community substantially exceeds the value of the ‘free mattress recycling’ services currently supported by MRC in Del Norte County. The Mattress Recycling Council is profiting from underperforming in rural communities.
Our community is not alone. MRC has not yet established daily no-charge mattress recycling in seven of California’s 58 Counties including Contra Costa, Marin, Plumas, and Yuba, Glenn, Alpine, Trinity and Sutter. In 2018, MRC increased the payout to registered collectors who bring in illegally dumped mattresses from $10 each to $15 each. Despite these facts, the MRC collected over $30 million above their expenses, and MRC has been allowed to decrease the per-mattress fee charged every single day in every single county from $11 per mattress to $10.50 per mattress. We believe the fee should not be reduced until the program is fully operational and every fee payer in CA has a convenient collection and illegal dumping is dramatically and visibly reduced.
As long as the MRC is allowed to set a single statewide fee and omit mattress recycling services in communities that do not appear profitable, neither of these two objectives will be met in rural communities, like Del Norte County. Furthermore, until MRC supports a location for low-cost or free mattress disposal in Del Norte County, any MRC financial support for the collection and disposal of mattresses that have been illegally dumped will be too little, too late.
Recent changes to the MRC illegal dumping program, including an increase in funding from $750,000 to $1,000,000 and payouts for registered collectors from $10 to $15, are designed to collect more data and develop an effective program moving forward. The public is eagerly waiting to see the results of this study and overall improvement in collection convenience and illegal dumping across the state.
On July 1st, MRC will publish their annual report, including the program details from the prior year. I encourage readers to keep an eye out for the report to understand if your jurisdiction is fairly benefitting from this program and funding CPSC members are able to get on the mattress listserv (email: email@example.com) to stay abreast of these issue and help inform the CPSC Policy Committee and Board on the best next steps to improve the program in California.
ReFuel Your Fun Went National in 2017!
The award winning ReFuel Your Fun (RFYF) Campaign promotes the use of refillable 1 lb. propane cylinders as a cost-effective & environmentally friendly alternative to disposables. Did you know 80% of the cost of disposables is the package? Only 20% of the cost is the gas inside, so refillables $ave money & the hassle of disposal!
U-Haul developed this short video on the benefits of refillables:
Funded in part by a grant from CalRecycle
Customizable RFYF Commercial with Boy & Girl Scouts, & CA Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird in English (Spanish is available)
Here’s how you can ReFuel Your Fun while camping:
“When we started working with CPSC in August 2014, there was not one retailer selling or refilling the 1lb refillables in Santa Cruz County and the State of California. In two short years, we have recruited four retailers that sell and three that refill in the County, with 193 in the State, and more are in process. We developed a TV commercial with Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird and the Boy and Girl Scouts that runs in the Central Coast media market and beyond and has made such an impression that Secretary Laird has told me he gets approached on the streets and thanked for letting people know about the refillables”. – Tim Goncharoff, Resource Planner at County of Santa Cruz
August 9, 2016
Eco-Friendly Impact of New Refillable Propane Cylinders Earns Praise from California Council and Customers
U-Haul International, Inc. is pleased to announce is has been selected to receive the California Product Stewardship Council’s Golden Arrow Award for overall excellence in product stewardship on Aug. 9 in Sacramento. The award specifically acknowledges the environmental impact associated with U-Haul Company’s one-pound refillable propane cylinder. It was introduced earlier this year at all of its 120-plus California stores where propane is dispensed. The campaign will soon be expanded to include the rest of the U.S. and Canada.
When customers, environmental organizations and government officials all line up in support of your new product, you must be doing something right.
That’s certainly the way John Barnett, propane program manager at U-Haul International, sees things.
“This hits home for me,” Barnett said.
California passed mattress stewardship legislation in 2013. On December 30, 2015, the program began operations. It is now official that the Mattress Stewardship Plan was approved by CalRecycle on January 29th and the program plan is set. I want to be the first to congratulate the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) on their leadership by submitting an approvable plan!
Also, as a member of the Advisory Committee to MRC, I could not be happier to have participated in the program development discussions with my fellow committee members and the MRC. It was fun and educational and built strong relationships between us. We are hearing the mattress program is off to a great start based on the feedback we are getting from across the state. the MRC deserves a lot of credit for their leadership in hiring great people to work the program and having a great attitude of collaboration and cooperation with a variety of stakeholders.
It will take public/private partnerships to solve our larger waste management problems and we hope the model of a CalRecycle appointed stakeholder advisory committee is the norm for future stewardship legislation. Having an advisory committee built collaborative relationships among us during the program development and ensures the stewardship plans will work and will harmonize with the existing infrastructure.
CPSC will keep you posted on the implementation of the program.
Welcome to the California Product Stewardship (CPSC) Blog. Please check back for content from CPSC Executive Director Heidi Sanborn and CPSC Board Members.