Mattress recycling booming

New trash bylaw a boon to North Van business

A North Vancouver entrepreneur has seen his business boom thanks to a Metro Vancouver rule change aimed at keeping mattresses out of landfills.

Fabio Scaldaferri, co-founder and CEO of Mattressrecycling.ca, said work for his upstart company has grown from a trickle to a flood since the region enacted a new bylaw at the beginning of the year that makes it illegal to throw old mattresses into garbage dumps. Scaldaferri estimated the North Vancouver-based operation is now receiving 1,000 mattresses a week at its Burnaby depot.

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"It basically went from an owner-operator business to a company," said Scaldaferri, who runs Mattressrecycling.ca with Olympian windsurfer Zac Plavsic. "Our business is basically here because of that bylaw change."

More than 47,000 mattresses and box springs have been recycled in the region since the change came into effect, according to Metro. Only a handful of companies offer the service, meaning they have all seen a significant rise in workload.

Mattressrecycling.ca started as four friends from the North Shore lobbying the region to enact the ban, said Scaldaferri. The company now operates seven days a week and employs 25 people, many of whom spend their days in teams of two ripping mattresses and sorting materials. The workers separate polyurethane, plastic, cotton, foam, wood, and steel.

"Steel we sell for market value," said Scaldaferri. "Wood we pay to get rid of it."

Approximately 95 per cent of each mattress is diverted from the landfill. The company charges $12.50 to drop off a mattress, while transfer stations charge $20.

Scaldaferri said his depot receives material from junk removal companies as well as "pretty much all the hotels in North Vancouver."

Eamonn Duignan, the co-owner of Green Coast Rubbish, a junk removal company based in North Vancouver, said the change for him has been modest, with just a few more mattresses appearing in his pickups than in previous years.

"It's not a massive amount," he said, estimating his trucks collect between 10 and 30 mattresses each month.

Critics have raised the possibility that the bylaw might encourage people to dump mattresses illegally, but Metro Vancouver communications officer Greg Valou said they didn't have sufficient data to draw any conclusions on that issue.

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