Transforming waste into opportunities: tackling the landfill problem


clothes in landfill

Nick Oettinger, CEO of The Furniture Recycling Group, shares his insight on tackling the issue of landfill and creating a circular economy.

Landfills have long served as the default waste management solution worldwide. However, with the global population and consumption levels on the rise, the pressing issue of landfill waste, particularly from discarded household items such as mattresses, demands urgent action.

The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR Group) is committed to addressing this problem by advocating for and offering recycling services. In this article, we delve into the challenges posed by landfills and present sustainable alternatives that can pave the way for a greener future.

The Landfill Problem


Environmental impact

Landfills produce harmful greenhouse gases, especially methane, which contribute to climate change. Leachate, a toxic liquid formed when water passes through waste, can contaminate surrounding soil and groundwater.

A 2020 report by the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed that landfill sites were responsible for approximately 18% of the UK’s total methane emissions in 2018, emphasising the urgency of addressing this issue.

Resource waste

Landfills promote a linear economy, whereby valuable resources are extracted, used and discarded without being reclaimed. This approach is unsustainable, as it depletes natural resources and overlooks the benefits of recycling and repurposing.

For example, over 8 million mattresses are sent to UK landfills each year, occupying a significant amount of space and representing a waste of valuable resources, when they could simply be recycled/rejuvenated.

Limited space

As urbanisation and population growth continue, land for landfill sites is becoming increasingly scarce. In 2018, it was estimated that there were only 6.8 years of landfill capacity remaining in the UK, highlighting the urgent need for alternative waste management solutions. This also leads to higher waste management costs and comprises the quality of life for communities residing near those sites.

The sustainable solution: embracing circular economy principles

Circular Economy

Mattress recycling

Recycling mattresses can significantly divert waste from landfills, mitigate environmental impacts and recover valuable materials. The Furniture Recycling Group specialises in mattress recycling, breaking down mattresses into their core components, which can be repurposed and reused.

The National Bed Federation (NBF) reported that in 2019, 19.2% of end-of-life mattresses in the UK were recycled, representing an increase from the previous year and demonstrating the potential for further expansion in this sector.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Encouraging manufacturers to adopt EPR policies ensures that they are responsible for the end-of-life management of their products. This can promote eco-friendly designs and materials, as well as incentivise companies to invest in recycling infrastructure.

Consumer awareness and education

Raising public awareness about the importance of recycling and responsible waste disposal is crucial. When consumers understand the implications of their choices, they are more likely to choose environmentally friendly products and participate in recycling initiatives.

Collaborative efforts

Partnerships between governments, businesses, and communities are essential in developing effective and scalable solutions to address landfill problems. By working together, we can create policies, infrastructure and social norms that encourage sustainable waste management practices.



The landfill problem affects us all, with significant environmental, social and economic consequences. By adopting circular economy principles and supporting initiatives like mattress recycling, we can overcome this challenge and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

The Furniture Recycling Group is committed to playing its part in this transformation, and we invite you to join us in our efforts to create a cleaner, greener world.

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