Darwen, UK based soft furnishings recycling specialist, The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR Group), has developed an automated pocket spring recycling machine to streamline the mattress recycling process.
The company explained that pocket spring based mattresses present specific challenges to recyclers, consisting of between 1000 and 10,000 single springs each wrapped inside a textile-based polypropylene pocket.
Traditionally, the only way of recycling pocket springs was said to be manually separating each spring from the pocket with a knife, which is time-intensive and commercially unviable.
Rather than being recycled, the company said that previously in the UK the pockets would either be sent to the only scrap dealer in the country to accepts pocket springs - at a high cost and where they are mixed into other scrap - or due to the excessive cost of scrapping, would be sent to landfill.
The firm went on to highlight a recent report which found that some 167,000 tonnes of mattresses are sent to landfill each year in the UK alone and that in 2014 around 5.9 million end of life mattresses were disposed.
Of those just 16% were said to be recycled and 73% were sent to landfill, the remaining 11 per cent were incinerated.
To tackle the problem TFR said that its engineers have designed a machine to dismantle and separate the components for pocket springs within mattresses, reducing the process from taking over half a day per full pocket spring to just 2.5 minutes.
The company explained that the machine separates the mattress components automatically into steel and polypropylene waste streams, leaving recyclable components that have a value and can be sold on, re-used as scrap or recycled.
According to the company it is the first machine in the world to automate the process of recycling mattresses, and the technology has been patented.
TFR said that it is already working on other devices that can help to automate the mattress recycling process and reduce the manual labour requirement.
“As far as we know, we are the first company in the world to design and create a machine to automate pocket spring recycling,” commented Nick Oettinger, founder and managing director of TFR Group.
“Pocket springs are the most difficult components of mattresses to dismantle and recycle and there can be between 1000 and 10,000 springs on each mattress so it was our priority to develop this piece of machinery,” he continued.
Oettinger added that the company is working with manufacturing partners to produce more versions of the machine that can be sold all over the world, speeding up pocket spring recycling for organisations in the UK and beyond.
“This is the first in a series of machines that will speed up mattress recycling and we also have designs for additional machinery to help bring automation to the mattress recycling process,” he said.
“Our engineering team is working hard to bring these designs to prototype stage, ready to launch and implement at our own plant, with the aim of producing and selling them in the near future,” concluded Oettinger.
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