Foam is recycled and provides environmental benefits compared to spring mattress units. Many materials are difficult to recycle. Some simply don’t produce a valuable recycled material. Others are difficult to collect and transport. But, flexible polyurethane foam is now being recycled and providing environmental benefits.
Up to 30 percent of all foam can become scrap after cutting and shaping foam in product fabrication. Without recycling this would be a costly disposal problem for foam manufacturers. However, with the development of practical end uses for scrap foam, almost every piece of scrap is recyclable.
Bales are easier to handle and help keep the transportation costs down. The only requirements for the scrap are that it should be new foam, dry and free of any foreign materials or objects. Large amounts of scrap can be packaged using compactors. The foam is compressed by foam compactor to reduce its size.
The majority of flexible polyurethane foam scrap is shredded into small particles and bonded together to make carpet underlay (rebound foam). This process has become so successful so much that the demand for scrap foam now exceeds supply in North America. Bonded carpet underlay manufacturers currently use more than 400 million pounds of process scrap annually. Of that total, almost 300 million pounds are purchased from domestic sources and the balance is imported. Other scrap is mixed with fibre and converted into stuffing for pillows, toys, or furniture backs.