Knox City Council: Mattress Recycling Project

Late in 2012 a solution was required to fill the void in Melbourne’s mattress recovery capability created by the collapse of Dreamsafe. The operation at Knox Transfer Station Pty Ltd (KTS) in Wantirna South had stepped up its throughput significantly in the previous months and it was apparent that it represented a key component of the solution – particularly for the eastern Metropolitan region.  

It was also evident that there were a number of significant shortcomings in the existing operation:

  • mattresses and processing were exposed to the weather
  • steel extracted by the magnet was not fully separated from other shredded material and frequent blockages required manual clearing
  • steel springs were sometimes not completely shredded. This presented a risk of entanglement with belts/rollers/magnets and other moving parts in the recovery process and added to maintenance downtime. The steel was also less acceptable to metal recyclers in this form.
  • process was not fully mechanised and the increased intensity of throughput presented an OHS risk due to the level of manual handling required
  • current process was operating close to maximum capacity with no buffer for breakdown, emergency stoppage or mishap.

Upgrading of the KTS mattress and hard-waste processing capability provided councils on the eastern side of Melbourne with an immediate and developing capacity to divert mattresses from landfill after the collapse of Dreamsafe.  

Improvements in the efficiency of every aspect of materials handling on the KTS site has increased the safe throughput capacity as predicted. The throughput of mattresses has at peak times been close 12,000 units in one month without creating significant operational issues. This is equivalent to an annualised throughput of more than 140,000 mattresses – well in excess of the project target of 100,000 mattresses per annum.

Reduction of manual handling, reduction of fire risk, reduction of exposure to dust generation and separation of activities on site have all contributed to a greatly decrease OHS risk profile.

Mechanical sorting, shredding and screening of mixed waste materials enables the heaviest recyclable component (steel) to be much more effectively recovered. The use of the concrete pad for receival and initial sorting has enabled a higher level of pre-shredding recovery to be undertaken. Finally, the material recovery has increased from 15 per cent to 23 per cent for hard waste and from 15 per cent to 40 per cent for mattresses.

For more information about this project please contact the Coordinator, Waste Management at Knox City Council on (03) 9298 8000.

For more information about the Metro Fund contact or ph: 8698 9800.

Project resources:

Last updated: 20/05/2020