A California statute requires retailers to haul away old mattresses and implement a reverse logistics system. Even if your state doesn’t yet require a haul-away program, it’s worth it to start thinking about it before legislation requires it.

Jay Sackos

Jay Sackos, vice president of sales at Dolly Inc.

While water bottles, cardboard boxes, and other packaging materials are the more common materials connected to reuse, one recyclable product doesn’t receive nearly as much attention. This product? The humble mattress.

While mattress recycling isn’t a juicy topic buzzed about at Sunday brunch, with the onset of the new AB-187 Mattress Haul-Away Program law, mattress recycling and mattress sustainability just became more pertinent. This recently passed California law requires retailers—both those selling via traditional mattress stores and those selling solely through an ecommerce store—to haul away old mattresses and implement a seamless reverse logistics system into their business plans.

AB-187 was passed in 2019 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2020. The retailer take-back requirement was extended to online retailers effective Jan. 1, 2021. Let’s take a closer look at how this statute, even if you aren’t based in the Golden State.

What is AB-187 and why was it created?

According to the Mattress Recycling Council, more than 50,000 mattresses are discarded every day in the United States alone. Did your jaw drop? Because ours did. While some existing programs haul away mattresses and use their components to create recycled goods, a hefty portion of these disposed-of mattresses can end up in local landfills.

Traditionally, mattress buyers walked into a store and flung themselves onto various mattresses before landing on “the one.” But with the rise of convenient, online mattress-in-a-box retailers offering cushy “try our products free for 100 nights” return policies, it’s easier than ever to trade out old mattresses for new ones. According to a recent article in The Guardian, the result has been a rise in mattress waste worldwide—and a simultaneous fall in mattress sustainability.

California passed the AB-187 Mattress Haul-Away Program to get a handle on the mattress recycling and sustainability issue. Since July 1, 2014, retailers with brick and mortar stores in California have been required to offer take back to customers who had mattresses delivered. AB-187 requires all California mattress retailers to establish a recycling program, as well as an offer to haul away a consumer’s old mattress at the time a new one is delivered, free of charge. While the legislation provides stress-free convenience and an added recycling bonus to consumers, it also means new complexities and pain points for mattress retailers and their businesses.

Retailers and the law

Whether they sell products online or in person, California mattress retailers will have a tedious amount of work to ensure their mattress recycling efforts are sustainable and up to government standards.


Among other things, AB-187 Mattress Haul-Away Program eliminates a previously existing exception for mattresses delivered by common carrier. This means a party selling mattresses to end users in California on or after Jan. 1, 2021 and delivers them by common carrier must offer to pick up a used mattress for recycling from at no additional charge within 30 days of the delivery of the new mattress.

Developing a smooth reverse logistics plan for mattress sustainability can be difficult to implement. Mattress sellers typically focus on the cold, hard logistics of selling and delivering their products to consumers. However, with the new Mattress Haul-Away Program legislation in effect, retailers must create and execute an entire reverse logistics plan for their companies.

This requirement for a completely new segment of operations is something California mattress retailers might not have previously planned, budgeted, or ever accounted for, meaning merchants must direct more resources toward meeting specific standards. The planning and outsourcing required to bring a mattress recycling program to fruition can be costly and time-consuming.

A positive course of action

A solid reverse logistics plan should be part of your operations, whether you do business as a traditional walk-in shop, an online mattress-in-a-box vendor, or a big-box retail store—and even if you aren’t in California. While developing a pristine reverse logistics system is possible, the development and execution of mattress pick-up and haul-away is not an easy feat.

Partnering with a delivery solution provider is an easy and economical solution for simplifying mattress recycling operations. Some providers have set up customized programs per AB-187 requirements for major mattress retailers.

Taking advantage of this service can often be as simple as entering your mattress pick-up or haul-away requirements into the provider’s system. Upon receiving that information, a provider’s truck and capable helper can deliver, collect, or dispose of mattresses (or other items) efficiently, safely, and inexpensively.

California’s AB-187 Mattress Haul-Away Program is just one step towards creating a greener, more sustainable environment. Even if your state doesn’t yet require a haul-away program, it’s worth it to start thinking about a mattress recovery and recycling plan before legislation requires it.


 Dolly Inc. is an on-demand delivery service that specializes in moving big and bulky items.