Arlington Recycle Warehouse keeps mattresses from landfills

ARLINGTON — If you live in Arlington and have a mattress you need to get rid of, you can recycle it rather than throwing it away.

Mike Zachman shows U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen how his workers recycle mattresses.

ARLINGTON — If you live in Arlington and have a mattress you need to get rid of, you can recycle it rather than throwing it away.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen learned about it when he visited the Arlington Recycle Warehouse Oct. 2.

Larsen was met at the warehouse, just south of the Arlington Airport on 59th Avenue, by Pastor Mike Zachman of The Point Church.

Zachman acts as the chief operating officer for the mattress recycling nonprofit, which “hit the ground running” in July of 2014 with four full-time and two part-time employees.

The 7,500-square-foot warehouse has recycled an estimated 20,000 mattresses, of which “only two or three were so gross that I couldn’t recycle them,” Zachman said.

The Arlington pastor sees mattress recycling as a way of helping to prevent usable goods from going into landfills. His workers harvest the foam from mattresses, so that it can be bundled into 800-pound bales and turned into carpet padding.

“The memory foam is usually heavier,” Zachman said. “Either way, it’s nice to have big guys working for you. We’ve had high school varsity players here, including my son. It’s a great workout for them.”

Zachman charges mattress donors $10 per piece. He boasts that he can recycle 95 percent of what he receives, including the plastic bags the mattresses came in, especially since he receives payments from several of the groups to whom he sends the foam, plastic and other materials.

Wolford Trucking in Woodinville accepts the wooden box springs from Zachman for free, processing it into hog fuel, while Skagit Steel is his main buyer of metal bed springs.

“That’s a lot better than paying the county to take it off your hands,” Zachman said.

While Zachman’s workers have become efficient enough to remove the foam from a mattress in minutes, he’d be able to increase the amount of donations the warehouse can process if he was able to hire more employees and acquire another bailing machine.

“Before we got our first bailer, we were stacked to the rafters with mattresses,” Zachman said, admitting that the fire department had some concerns. “If we could get a grant for more hires and another machine, we could do business with Sleep Country again.”

Zachman also welcomed the chance to put more volunteers to work, whether they’re high school students, court-appointed laborers or clients of Village Community Services. He’d also like to see mattresses’ shoddy cloth turned into padded backing for firing and archery range targets, and coconut fibers used as tinder kits to start camp fires.

“Potentially, we could employ up to two shifts of eight workers, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but anything we can do for job creation is a plus,” Zachman said.

Zachman also believes in supporting local industry, to the point that the only business outside of the state that he deals with is an Arizona-based insulation company, that turns the cotton of the mattresses into blown-in attic insulation.

“It gives it a bit of fluff,” Zachman said. “We’ve accepted donations of furniture we haven’t found homes for yet, and we’re exploring turning some of the metal frames into animal cages for farmers. We’ve even had people turn our box frames into fencing and greenhouses. Even if it’s at a cost to us, whatever we can do to keep it from the landfill.”

Zachman noted that he’s received drop-offs from Sears and folks who have driven from as far away as Seattle. His workers do pickups for $25 apiece within a 15-mile radius.

The Arlington Recycle Warehouse is at 16910 59th Ave. NE and is open Mondays through Saturdays. For details, call 425-931-3670 or visit recyclewarehouse.org.

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