The streets of Halifax — and many other university cities — are lined with mattresses this week heading for the big sleep of the landfill. Some are stained, nasty and broken, while others still have a spring in their step.

Some people, like professional mover Greg Slaunwhite, rescue the good ones and take them to places like the Parker Street Furniture Bank. 

'We also have a look at it to see that there are no obvious signs of bugs.' - Roy Uffindell, Parker Street Furniture Bank

"We'll take them down and somebody else moving in that doesn't have one will get a chance for $25 to get a mattress,” he said.

Staff at the food bank inspect them closely to make sure they're in good condition. 

"We also have a look at it to see that there are no obvious signs of bugs or anything else. Then we accept it and we bring it in and take a closer look at it, and it will go out when somebody wants it,” said Roy Uffindell.

95% recyclable

Mattress Mart encourages recycling. When a customer buys a new bed, their old box spring and mattress are sent to a recycling plant in Montreal for a $10 fee. About 95 per cent of the mattress is recyclable.

Once there, the mattress is shredded. The upholstery is incinerated to create energy; the metal springs are melted down and reused.

"That doesn't in any way cover the actual cost of recycling because it's shipped back to Montreal, so there's the gas, and at the warehouse it's ripped apart, so it's the labour for that," explained Elaine Grantham of Mattress Mart.

"It's significantly higher than the $10 fee to actually recycle a mattress.” 

Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment is preparing a report looking into increasing the levels of recycling for mattresses. One of the ideas is to put a mandatory fee on mattresses, and many other items including carpets and roofing materials. 

A report will be ready at the end of this month.

Halifax Regional Municipality looked at the idea in 2012, but so far nothing has come of it.