What to do with those old mattresses – an environmentally helpful solution

Several years ago, Mike and Pat Chmura, owners of East Chop Sleep Shop, had a logistical and environmental dilemma that needed solving. Their business, selling and delivering mattresses to Vineyarders, could find no facility on the Island that would accept the large quantity of old bedding to be scrapped.

Responsible Mattress Disposal or (RMD), as the Chmuras call the program they developed, became a reality for Ms. Chmura when “we found a recycling center in Willimantic, Conn. that actually accepted large quantities of old mattresses and separated the steel, wood, and fibers. Then, these materials were reprocessed and recycled into new products.”

To make this environmentally conscientious solution work, Mr. Chmura said this week, “the problem was to create a holding area for old beds in a dry, secure area and then get them to Willimantic Waste.” With the help of Al Scott, owner of Cape Cod Express, and using a trailer for storage, East Chop Sleep Shop collects old bedding, and Cape Cod Express hauls it to Connecticut. The whole process costs around $5,000 per trailer load, Mr. Chmura says.

Apart from the environmental benefit, was anything surprising and valuable ever found in one of the mattresses destined for reprocessing? “The only things of value we ever found were some circa 1920s family pictures in an envelope in the Campground. We gladly returned them to the homeowner. They turned out to be pictures of the homeowner’s grandparents. We certainly made their day,” Mr. Chmura says

Since the East Chop Sleep Shop recycling effort began, the company has shipped more than 10,000 old mattresses off-Island. The business also disposes of a large amount of plastic and cardboard, which Bizzarro Industries recycles.

“We wanted to do our part, and solve a business problem. We encourage all Islanders to do their parts to keep Martha’s Vineyard as pristine as possible. More information is available about Willimantic Waste at www.willwaste.com,” Mr. Chmura said.