Oregon senate passes mattress recycling program bill

A puppy snuggles up in an old mattress.

SB 1576 would establish a mattress recycling program funded by a tax on new mattresses, but opponents say Oregon taxpayers are overburdened. 

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Last week, the Oregon Senate approved a bill that establishes a that would make it easier to recycle discarded mattresses across the state. The bill is scheduled for a third reading before the House of Representatives Wednesday.

If Senate Bill 1576 is approved, it would add a surcharge to all mattress sales to fund a mattress recycling program operated by a stewardship organization overseen by the Department of Environmental Quality. 

Mattress producers, renovators and retailers would be required to register with the new stewardship organization, which would provide free collection and recycling service throughout the state and report annually to DEQ. 

The fee would likely range from $9 to $16 per mattress, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, using data from states that have enacted similar programs. 

Sen. James Manning (D-Eugene), co-chief sponsor of SB 1576, said the concept was brought to him by his district’s St. Vincent de Paul, a nonprofit that recycles mattresses along with electronics, large appliances and other items as part of its thrift store operation.

Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), the bill’s other chief sponsor, says existing recyclers are interested in expanding their work, the Oregon Capitol Chronicle reported last week. 

On Friday, in a statment, Manning described the proposed program as an “excellent opportunity to reduce waste, as well as employ up to 100 Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Opposition to the bill has come from the Taxpayers Association of Oregon, which called the bill a “bedroom tax” in an editorial on the conservative website the Oregon Catalyst. 

The editorial compares Oregon’s current trash and refuse situation to New York City’s trash problem in the 1990s.

“Back then, New York businesses could afford to pay more for a new sanitation program because Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor Pataki cut over 40 taxes and fees. Giuliani also slashed crime nearly in half,” the editorial said.

If SB1576 passes, Oregon would join nine states — New York among them — in instituting a mattress recycling program. The Mattress Recycling Council runs statewide programs in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island, all funded by small surcharges on mattress sales. 

In the same Friday statment, Dembrow said in a statement that the bill would add to “Oregon’s legacy of environmental protection.” 

He praised Oregon’s recycling programs for paint products and electronics and stated the bill would “protect our environment, conserve resources and create meaningful jobs.” 

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