Social Innovation: Pioneering Mattress Recycling Campaign

It stands to reason that a big hotel brand like Hilton Worldwide would be a big consumer of mattresses. So this month, Hilton has launched a pioneering mattress recycling campaign. Why? Well, mattresses are hard to get rid of once they've reached their lifecycle. Their cumbersome size makes them hard to be compressed, crushed or incinerated; this means they can take up a lot of landfill space. Plus, old, discarded mattresses can easily become infested with bedbugs and other parasites, which makes donating them a big ‘no.’

Hilton will recycle approximately 85 percent of its mattresses and box springs into various products rather than sending them to a landfill. This social innovation initiative is being coordinated with the installation of new Serta mattresses and box springs. Randy Gaines, VP, engineering operations for the Americas at Hilton Worldwide, says, "Our hotels have purchased more than 50,000 mattresses in the past two years in the U.S. alone and this program presents a great opportunity for our hotels globally to reduce."

In partnership with DH Hospitality, the mattresses will be recycled into other products such as steel springs for tools, automobiles, construction materials to wood for tempered flooring, shelving and other pressed wood products to quilt scrap for carpet padding and cotton fibres for oil filters, mats and stuffing. DH Hospitality is a single source turnkey provider offering recycling, installation, liquidation, transportation and warehousing services across the states. The company will install and remove mattresses from Hilton’s properties, ensuring that hotel operations are not affected by the replacement program. DH Hospitality will ensure that all components of the mattress and box springs are being recycled, not resold or re-covered, by requiring recycling centres to provide a certificate of recycling.

LightStay, the brand’s proprietary management system, will enable the various hotel properties to report and track the progress of their mattress donation. They will also provide additional items during room renovations to Good360, a program that helps to identify local nonprofits in need of goods. Last month, Hilton Worldwide reported its 2011 results and announced it has achieved its five-year goal to reduce waste by 20 percent, two years ahead of schedule. This social innovation mattress initiative further supports Hilton Worldwide’s mission, Travel with Progress, which provides shared value to its business and communities around the world.

The U.S. Navy too, has begun a pilot mattress recycling program with South Carolina based Nine Lives Mattress Recycling which will break down about 13,000 well-used mattresses. This is the equivalent of 100,000 cubic feet of space from several Navy ships. The program reportedly costs $12,000 less than simply having the discarded mattresses end up in a landfill!

Photo Credit: Tippin' the Scales

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