Los Angeles Business Journal

Mattress Recycling May Pad Bill

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

Both bills are headed for policy committees this month.

At least two local companies said they were OK with either bill.

“We’re comfortable with either bill,” said Ken Karmin, owner of La Mirada manufacturer-retailer Ortho Mattress Inc. “We hope that when these bills come out, they are pro employment and have a positive effect on the environment.”

Karmin said his company already pays a small amount to recycling companies to haul away and recycle old mattresses when they deliver new mattresses to customers. These companies break down the mattresses and sell the component parts: steel springs become scrap metal and wood frames get transformed into wooden pallets, for example.

Karmin added he would not mind paying a little more if it would help address the illegal dumping of mattresses that ultimately clog local landfills.

Still, he does have some concerns about both proposals. The Hancock bill, which targets mattress makers, must assure that all manufacturers pay the same fees to the state, he said. In the Correa bill, he continued, any recycling program crafted by the statewide non-profit should not cut out existing mattress recyclers.

“There’s a cottage industry of people who recycle mattresses for a living,” he said. “I would hate to see any of them lose their jobs because of this legislation.”

One of those mattress recyclers is Tchad Robinson, co-owner of Blue Marble Materials, a facility that opened last year in the City of Commerce and now recycles roughly 500,000 mattresses a year.

Robinson said he, too, does not have a preference for either bill.

“My main concern is that either of these bills could create a top-down approach that could dislodge existing recyclers,” he said.

He said neither bill seems to address another of his concerns: Some recyclers refurbish old mattresses and then pass them off as new when they sell them to wholesalers and retailers.

“We need to crack down on these rogue companies,” he said.

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