Los Angeles Business Journal

Mattress Recycling May Pad Bill

Manufacturing: Makers, retailers question program costs. By Howard Fine Monday, April 1, 2013

Then there’s the cost to taxpayers for city haulers to pick up and dispose of the mattresses, usually in landfills. Hancock said the state’s 10 largest cities spend more than $20 million a year hauling away old mattresses.

Supporters of the Correa bill don’t dispute those figures. They take issue with how the Hancock bill would pay for the recycling of used mattresses: requiring manufacturers to pay quarterly fees to the state Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (known as Cal Recycle). The department would determine the fee amounts at a later date.

The manufacturers would also have to get department approval for a plan – or plans – to recycle 75 percent of old mattresses by 2020. Those manufacturers that refuse to comply would be banned from selling mattresses in the state.

“Manufacturers have a responsibility for their products,” said Larry Levin, spokesman for Hancock. “Their responsibility goes beyond taking the money from California and running.”

The nation’s four largest mattress manufacturers – Sealy Corp. of Trinity, N.C.; Serta of Hoffman Estates, Ill.; Simmons Bedding Co. of Atlanta; and Spring Air Co. of Elk Grove Village, Ill. – are all headquartered outside California.

Hancock’s bill also would require retailers to offer mattress pickup services at no cost to consumers. The bill doesn’t specify whether retailers would be reimbursed from the funds collected from manufacturers.

Last year, the International Sleep Products Association, the main trade group for mattress manufacturers, opposed Hancock’s original mattress recycling bill, as did the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.

Nonetheless, the bill made it all the way to the Assembly floor in the final hours of the session before being blocked by some moderate Democrat lawmakers from the Central Valley concerned about the impact it might have on local mattress makers and retailers.

Hancock reintroduced an almost identical bill in February.

Competing bill

This year, mattress manufacturers have joined a coalition called Californians for Mattress Recycling that also includes retailers like Sit ’n Sleep and some mattress recyclers.

The coalition convinced Correa to author his bill, SB 245, as an alternative to the Hancock bill. It would levy a small fee on each consumer purchase of a mattress; the money would go to a non-profit organization that would set up and operate a statewide mattress recycling program.

“SB 245 balances landfill pressures and environmental and industry concerns,” Correa said last month.

A key question with the Correa bill is whether the consumer fee is considered a tax that would require the legislation to get two-thirds approval in both the Senate and Assembly.

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