A new statewide ban on the disposal of mattresses and box springs via the waste stream or incinerators takes effect Nov. 1, and UTEC is readying for the shift. The nonprofit serving justice-involved young adults, which runs a mattress recycling enterprise in Lawrence, is working with state Sen. Ed Kennedy to manage the potential implications for its community-based business model. Kennedy’s legislation — which needs to pass by Sunday, the end of the legislative session — includes a provision for an advisory committee made up of recyclers at which nonprofits will have a seat at the table providing oversight. More importantly, the bill places an emphasis on supporting nonprofit social enterprises in the new industry.
“I filed legislation at the beginning of the session, which would have been early last year,” Kennedy said by phone this week. “California, Oregon, Rhode Island and Connecticut all have this mattress landfill ban. What makes our legislation unique is that we have some consideration for the private nonprofits that provide jobs for young people who are looking to get back on track.”
Massachusetts residents and businesses discard more than 600,000 mattresses and box springs annually. UTEC handles almost 25,000 of that total but is expanding both its warehouse footprint and staffing capability to meet the increased demand driven by the new regulation established by the state Department of Environmental Protection in its 2023 Solid Waste Master Plan. The bulky items, which clog landfills and lead to higher disposal costs for towns and cities, are almost 95% recyclable. “The bill provides jobs for these young people,” Kennedy said. “That part of it is a big deal. It would make sure that places like UTEC continue to operate.”