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November 2003

Recycler Puts "Mattress Mountain" to Bed

Long Island, NY— Plenty of American business owners lose sleep every night because of problems with their mattress, but for Brian Levine, mattress problems were turning into a mountain of a headache. For the past 12 years, Levine has owned and operated Gator Recycling along with Gator Transport in the town of Oceanside, on Long Island, New York.

Gator is a C&D recycler handling about 100,000 tons per year with a crew of 25 in the yard. One of Levine’s contracts is to accept mattresses and box springs from the trash collection of the nearby town of Hempstead. Soon after he won the contract, though, he found that he had run out of places to dispose of the mattresses.

“Nobody wants them,” he explains. “They’re bulky; they’re hard to bury. They take up a lot of space and the cost of land is getting pretty high.”

So, the mattresses from Hempstead began to grow into a large, costly mountain in the Gator yard. “We tried all kinds of equipment to reduce the mattresses, but nothing worked,” says Levine. It turns out that mattresses, with their combination of steel bedsprings, stuffing and coarse fabric coverings, are more than a match for traditional reduction equipment. “They were all high-speed machines,” he continues, “with lots of moving parts that needed lots of maintenance. One came in here, we fed it a mattress and the machine was down in five minutes. It cut the mattress into strips that got wound up in the belts and gears.”

Then last spring, after seeing a magazine ad for the Schred Max multi-material primary reducer, Levine took a trip up to the factory to see a demonstration of Schred Max. “It’s a very simple machine, which means it’s easy to run; not many moving parts, and it runs at low speed. It runs slow, but that’s why it works.” By mid-June, Protoworks President John Dorscht was on the Gator site commissioning a new 56 SD (severe duty) 50 horsepower CAT diesel unit for Levine.

“You just start it up in the morning and it runs all day. We’ve been running it every day and only had it down once for scheduled maintenance – that’s just five grease points and you’re done.”

The shredded mattresses are collected in a bin beneath the unit. Levine extracts the metal and the fluff is shipped for landfill or incineration. “The mattresses are reduced by a volume of, I’d say, 10 to 1. The Schred Max requires just one operator to load and feed the hopper, run the shredder and truck away the bin when it’s full.


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