Disposing of a mattress is ridiculously hard. So is the wider struggle for waste sustainability

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Greater Sudbury has 167,000 residents who send some 12,000 discarded mattresses to the landfill every year. The city does not have any type of recycling program in place, and the disposal of these items poses challenges for both the municipality and the landfill operators.

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About 95 per cent of an old mattress can be transformed into new products, but there are several challenges in setting up recycling programs across Canada.The disposal of mattresses and box springs in landfills has always posed challenges for Canadian municipalities and landfill operators. (Aya Dufour/CBC)It's a grey, wet October day at the landfill in Greater Sudbury in northern Ontario, and the hazy conditions have attracted colonies of seagulls and eagles in search of food to the area.

In the sea of plastic and soil is the unmistakable shape of a mattress, taking up on average 400 per cent more space than anything else around it. "We're looking at a grassy area, but there's one leachate spot right there," he says, adding it is typically a sign a mattress is buried underneath. Brownlee says it will cost $200 million to open a new landfill when the current one reaches its maximum capacity in an estimated 25 years.Like many of the smaller and more rural cities in Ontario, Greater Sudbury does not have enough of a population to sustain a viable private mattress recycling facility.

He says while the cost of recycling mattresses has remained stable over the years, transportation costs have not, which is dissuading potential clients in more rural areas from seeking the services of Recyc-Mattresses.Few Canadian municipalities and provinces have mattress diversion programs, and places that do tend to pass on the cost to residents directly.In Barrie, residents pay $15 to recycle a discarded mattress.

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