Photo shows Suzanne Diamond
Suzanne Diamond started by making chemical-free futons for her children.

California mattress recycling program adds futons

California’s mattress recycling program expands to include futons on Jan. 1, giving more responsibilities to retailers.

That came as a surprise to Home Furnishings Association member Suzanne Diamond, founder and CEO of The Futon Shop in San Francisco — and probably many other retailers, too.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 187 in October. The measure amended California’s Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act, adding futons to the law’s definition of a mattress. A mattress, according to the statute, is “a resilient material or combination of materials that is enclosed by a ticking, is used alone or in combination with other products, and is intended for or promoted for sleeping upon.”

Retailers who sell mattresses must add a recycling fee of $10.50 for each unit and a separate $10.50 for each bed frame. Beginning Jan. 1, that $10.50 fee also must be added to every sale of a futon, but not to a futon frame or base. If a retailer delivers a futon to a customer’s home, the retailer must offer to remove a used mattress at no charge to the customer.

It is up to the retailer whether to designate the used product for recycling. The Mattress Recycling Council provides collection points that accept used mattresses from retailers at no charge. But some HFA members say the collection points are not at convenient locations, making it costly for them to deliver those used products.

It’s also a problem that the fee is the same, whether the customer is purchasing a product for $100 or $2,000.

HFA members turn recycling obligation into opportunity

Diamond first made futons for her children

The Futon Shop manufactures “non-toxic futon mattresses” locally and sells them at its California stores, online and through other retail partners. It is a Green America Certified business and supports environmentally responsible practices, including recycling.

Diamond began the business in 1976 because she couldn’t find healthy products for her children.

“Every mattress I found was full of chemicals,” she says in a video on The Futon Shop’s website.

So, using natural materials, “I learned how to make a Japanese futon, and it was fabulous. It was natural, it was comfortable. I made them for my children, and I put a little sign in the local health food store, and I said, ‘Want a futon? Call Suzy.’ And I started getting phone calls. I couldn’t have imagined 40 years ago that it would evolve to the company it is today.”

California’s mattress recycling program isn’t new, but futons weren’t included before. Upon learning that soon will change, Diamond had questions.

Must the retailer charge the recycling fee even if the customer doesn’t have a used mattress to recycle?

Yes. The fee must be collected at purchase. The revenue supports the recycling program, which benefits all Californians by reducing demand on landfills.

Does the fee apply to online sales?

Yes, if the buyer is in California or the two other participating states (Connecticut and Rhode Island).

If the customer takes the product home himself or herself, must the retailer offer to pick up a used mattress?

No.

More changes are coming

If the retailer delivers the mattress by a common carrier, such as FedEx or UPS, must the retailer offer to pick up a used mattress?

Not yet. But that will change on Jan. 1, 2021. After that date, sellers making deliveries by common carrier to California customers also must offer to pick up used mattresses.

All mattress retailers selling mattresses in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island must register with the Mattress Recycling Council. Companies that produce, import or distribute mattresses for sale in those states also must register. Retailers can only sell products from registered companies. Starting Jan. 1 in California, those products will include futons.

Diamond doesn’t think her customers will welcome the idea of adding $10.50 to the cost of a futon, especially if they don’t have anything to recycle.

“A futon is not necessarily replacing a mattress in their home,” she said. Yet, she’s resigned to it.

“It is what it is, and I’m happy to help,” she said. “So here we go.”

The Mattress Recycling Council invites questions at 1-888-646-6815 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific, or via email at support@MattressRecyclingCouncil.org. HFA members also may contact their government relations liaison, Doug Clark, at 916-757-1167 or dclark@myhfa.org

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