Mattress recycling

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Mattresses, which are classed as bulky items, can enter the waste stream either by kerbside collection or by way of household waste recycling centres. They are of a composite construction, with a material panel over a steel spring assembly. The design is heavily influenced by type and manufacturer. An analysis of a range of mattresses entering a recycling facility was undertaken and key physical parameters were determined to assess type, size, mass and methods of construction. Of the mattresses entering the facility, 58% were classed as double size and the remaining 42% were single. It was found that the panels were attached to the spring assembly by staples and they were either unstitched, stitched together using a range of designs or joined using tufted buttons. Furthermore, 98% of the mattresses examined were of a simple open spring design. The average mass varied from 15 kg for single mattresses to 25 kg for doubles. The steel spring assembly accounted for about 45% of the total mass. Currently, recycling takes place in dedicated centres using manual or automated processes. The type of construction heavily influences the recycling route: stitched panels are sent to energy from waste plants, whereas unstitched material is sent for further processing due to its ease of separation. The calorific value of the panel material ranged from 18.55 to 23.78 MJ/kg, making them ideally suited to energy applications.

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The over $6 billion US wholesale mattress market is driven mostly by metal innerspring technology originally innovated by blacksmiths in the 1800s. New bedding market entrant Tempur-Pedic continues to enjoy phenomenal growth and the industry's best profit margins founded on viscoelastic foam technology innovated by NASA. Visco mattress innovations are clearly disrupting the mattress industry as evidenced by several management, market, and financial metrics. However, visco mattress innovations cannot be classified as a disruptive innovation (DI) because the popularized term as commonly accepted and practiced requires that a DI cannot be used by mainstream users. Visco mattress innovations can be used by mainstream mattress users. Technology management researchers and practitioners may miss significant opportunities by rejecting potential innovations that would disrupt incumbent competitors and markets because they do not fit their current conceptual requirements for DIs such as that they cannot be used by mainstream users. Therefore, for this essay, a visco mattress innovation is characterized as a radical-disruptive innovation (RDI) with most characteristics of both radical and disruptive innovations in that it: (1) uniquely delivers new customer-demanded benefits useful even to mainstream users, (2) requires new organizational core competencies relative to the incumbent firms, and (3) disrupts the business models and markets of incumbent firms. This essay explores some of the management/organizational behaviors and market dynamics associated with the continuing disruption of the mattress industry by visco foam mattress RDIs. In addition, this essay briefly explores the managerial and financial constraints that LBO owners place on their firms that: help to allow a new firm with an RDI to enter the incumbent market and successfully compete, as well as mitigate the success of the new market entrant, both as the result of low organizational/financial slack. In conclusion, it is expected that Tempur-Pedic will continue to outperform innerspring incumbents by executing their current successful business model based on viscoelastic foam RDIs, albeit at slower rates. Also, it is expected that visco foam RDIs will become ubiquitous in the bedding and other industries, particularly in the high margin healthcare and sports industries, which is beneficial to all.
This study provided an objective, biomechanical comparison of four "top of the line" mattresses from four different manufacturers using two different measurements. One, which has been used in other studies, was pressure distribution patterns-evaluating maximum pressures generated by an individual lying supine on the mattresses. The other was a novel approach developed specifically for this study-quantifying the degree of spinal distortion induced when in the side posture position. Eighteen normal adult males of similar height but in three different weight groups were tested using both of these approaches on each of four mattresses. As expected, greater maximum pressure directly related to subject's weight group and was greater in the pelvic compared to the thoracic region. One mattress did induce significantly lower maximum pressures than the other three in both the pelvic and thoracic regions. Spinal distortion was not reliably different across the four mattresses in five of the seven spine regions evaluated. However, at the T1/T3 and the T6/T8 spinal segments, inconsistent but statistically significant separation between some mattresses was observed.