Baltimore firm recycles beds from Carroll dump Aim of test is to extend life of county's landfill

July 28, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Nobody knows how many old mattresses and box springs have been put to bed in Carroll County landfills. But with the help of Baltimore business, the county now has a way to extend the useful life of some of the bedding -- and of the Northern Landfill.

The county started a 90-day trial agreement in April with International Furniture and Bedding Inc. of Baltimore. Under the test, the company is taking usable mattresses and box springs left at the recycling trailer it placed at the Northern Landfill and refurbishing them for resale. There is no charge on either side.

In the furniture company's showroom on Greenmount Avenue, President William G. Voelp waved his arm at the bedroom sets, sofas and chairs. "All this stuff -- except for the wood items -- was destined for a landfill and it comes out brand spanking and destined for another life," he said.

County recycling coordinator Vinnie Legge has not tracked the number of mattresses and box springs going into the landfill. Since the recycling program began April 15, she said, the furniture company has hauled away four trailer loads of bedding at 2 tons a load.

Legge said saving landfill space was a greater priority for Carroll than earning state recycling credits to meet the requirement to recycle 15 percent of its waste.

"We're at 35 percent recycling. It's not like I need to do that [to gain credits], but the goal was to save landfill space, and mattresses by volume take up a lot of space," Legge said.

At the current pace, county staff members predict that the Northern Landfill on Route 40 east of Westminster will run out of space in 2006.

Legge said county officials hope to contract with the furniture company. The trial period will allow the company to assess whether Carroll has enough mattresses to justify a trailer at the landfill.

The trial also allows the county to assess the performance of the company, said Michael Hutchins, its vice president.

Hutchins estimated that his company diverted enough mattresses and box springs from Maryland, Delaware and Virginia landfills in 1995 to cover an acre of land 40 feet deep.

International Furniture and Bedding has been in business 11 years. It got most of its mattresses initially from retailers disposing of their customers' old bedding. County interest in recycling beds grew after the Maryland Department of the Environment began crediting counties for recycling old mattresses about two years ago, said Voelp, the company president.

The recyclers can't save every mattress. Bedding that can't stand, shows water or fire damage or has an odor goes into the landfill. About 20 percent to 30 percent of the mattresses and box springs hauled to the company can't be rebuilt. Workers strip and package foam and metal for sale to recyclers of those materials.

Mattresses that can be rebuilt are sanitized, as state law requires, rebuilt with additional foam if needed, tagged to

identify materials, given a new cover and shipped to retailers for sale. The factory can handle 1,000 mattresses a day.

Pub Date: 7/28/96

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