“End-of-life” mattresses and box springs are often discarded in landfills or illegally dumped, creating problems for Maryland’s waste-management goals and the state’s landfill lifespan. But legislation that would have helped address depleting landfill space and illegal disposal did not pass in the General Assembly this session and will not become a law this year. Del. Terri Hill, D-Baltimore and Howard counties, introduced House bill 502 to encourage Maryland jurisdictions to consider other states’ models for mattress and box-spring recycling. The bill passed the House but failed to advance in the Senate this session.

The Department of Legislative Services reported that the state’s landfill space has a remaining lifespan of about 31 years, according to the 2017 Solid Waste Management and Recycling in Maryland report. According to written testimony from Jeffrey Fretwell, director of legislative and intergovernmental relations for the Maryland Department of the Environment, a lack of available resources can result in the illegal dumping of mattresses. Some jurisdictions in Maryland provide bulk pickup services that allow residents to schedule an appointment for collection, or go directly to the landfills themselves, or pay for private disposal.

Bulk pickup services vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as some counties do not offer these collection services, while some will provide the service for a fee, and others will collect the items for free, according to each counties’ distinctive bulk pickup regulations. Fretwell added that illegal dumping places a burden on communities as they often bear the costs for cleanup and disposal.

Certain counties and cities in Maryland charge to pick up and dispose of mattresses and box springs, which further inspires illegal dumping, according to Fretwell. The state’s current environmental sustainability plan — the Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery executive order put in place by Gov. Larry Hogan in 2017 — does not address the management of “end-of-life” mattresses and box springs, according to Hill.

Hill pointed out during a Senate bill hearing on Feb. 26 that Ocean City has about 25,000 condominium rooms and 10,000 hotel rooms, which change their mattresses every five to seven years. “That’s a lot of mattresses,” Hill said. “When mattresses disappear, they end up in landfills or the side of the road. Mattresses are not included in any of our waste-stream plans.”