What is product stewardship?

The shared responsibility for managing the environmental, human health and safety impacts of a product throughout its life.

What is the Soft Landing Voluntary Product Stewardship Scheme?

Soft Landing is an industry led voluntary product stewardship arrangement that shares the responsibility for reducing the environmental and health and safety impacts of end-of-life mattresses. The Scheme is aimed at diverting end-of-life mattresses from landfill and off our streets for the recovery of recyclable materials.

This in turn supports the creation of meaningful work opportunities for people who have experienced barriers to employment. Over time the Product Stewardship Scheme will promote the use of environmentally preferable materials and processes to increase resource reuse, reduce waste to landfill and support health and safety.

Why does Australia need a product stewardship scheme?

Approximately 1.6 million old (end-of-life) mattresses are landfilled each year in Australia. The disposal of an end-of-life mattress uses significant landfill space, contributes to the generation of greenhouse gases and represents a loss of valuable resources. Mattress components are potentially 100% recyclable and the recovery of these materials will increase the availability of recyclable materials for downstream processing and contribute to the circular economy.

What does it mean to be a Voluntary Product Stewardship Scheme?

A voluntary scheme is distinct from a co-regulatory or mandatory scheme in that it is operated on a collaborative basis by industry without direct regulation by Government. A voluntary Scheme may be accredited under the Product Stewardship Act 2011 but is otherwise not directly governed by specific regulations.

What are the key objectives of the Scheme?

The Soft Landing Scheme aims to:

  • Increase the recovery of valuable resources;
  • Increase the diversion of waste from landfill;
  • Promote a cradle to grave solution for bedding products;
  • Support the creation of meaningful employment and training for local people who have experienced barriers to gaining lasting employment;
  • Improve community economic health and social well-being; and
  • Maintain a financially sustainable business model for end-of-life mattress recovery’
  • Satisfy Government preference for voluntary industry action on mattress waste

Who can become a Participant of the Scheme?

The Scheme is open to:

  • Australian manufacturers of mattresses
  • Importers of mattresses to the Australian market
  • Australian retailers of mattresses
  • Upstream suppliers
  • Downstream component recyclers
  • Commercial users of mattresses
  • Government at all levels
  • Charities
  • Recyclers who can meet Scheme Guidelines

What are the benefits of joining the Scheme?

By supporting the Scheme, Participants will benefit through the following outcomes:

Enhanced credibility delivered through demonstrated leadership shown by the adoption of environmentally and socially responsible strategies that:

  • Increase the capacity to manage end of life mattresses in Australia through strategically located infrastructure and services;
  • Increase consumer awareness of the impacts of end of life mattress disposal
  • Improve the economic health and wellbeing for people who have experienced barriers to employment;
  • Enhance the Australian recycling industry and support for sustainable markets for end-of-life mattress derived products;
  • Pre-empt more costly government intervention on mattress disposal

The scheme also assists the mattress industry to deliver on the objectives of the Australian Government’s National Waste Policy[1] – specifically for industry taking responsibility for the environmental, health and safety of products across the manufacture-supply-consumption chain at end of life.

Participants to the Scheme will benefit from the promotion of the Scheme, the use of the Scheme logo and other educational resources, and the achievements of the Research and Development program.

[1] Environment, Protection and Heritage Council (2009). National Waste Policy: Less Waste, More Resources. Published by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. November 2009. Internet publication: http://www.scew.gov.au/node/849/

Who manages the Scheme?

While the bedding industry sponsors the Scheme, a Scheme Manager is responsible for its day-to-day administration. The Soft Landing Executive Committee oversees the administration processes and the implementation of the Scheme Guidelines. Community Resources is the body corporate responsible for ensuring the stewardship arrangement achieves its outcomes and, once the Scheme is accredited, will report the governance and administration outcomes of the Scheme to the Australian Government Department of Environment.

Who manages the recycling process?

Soft Landing manages a network of mattress recycling facilities which are operated as a social not for profit enterprise. The Soft Landing facilities are strategically located and maintain the capacity to receive the end of life mattresses that are captured through the Scheme. Soft Landing has partnered with TIC Mattress Recycling to help manage volumes in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Soft Landing mattress recycling facilities are not funded by the Scheme, unless it is determined by the Scheme members to do so, for example to establish recycling in regional areas that may not be commercially viable otherwise.

How is the Scheme funded?

Participating Scheme members pay a membership fee based on their type of business. This funds the development of the scheme and consumer awareness education.  It is proposed a per unit fee will replace membership fees in the future. Recycling fees are paid by the recycling party (manufacturer, retailer, consumer, commercial user etc) to the recycler.

What will my financial contribution be spent on?

The membership contributions support the costs for:

  • Brand identity for scheme members;
  • Promotion of the Scheme;
  • Administration of the Scheme including the costs associated with the independent auditor report and verification activities; and
  • Research and development program to identify highest value use of recovered materials and optimal processing and logistics

How will the success of the Scheme be measured?

The Scheme’s impact will be measured on the following outcomes:

  • Increased recovery of mattresses
  • Increased recovery of valuable resources
  • Increased sustainable employment opportunities
  • Reduced reliance on landfill
  • Reasonable access to recycling facilities
  • Increased community awareness

How can Soft Landing handle a national recycling program?

Soft Landing is already expanding its processing locations. Soft Landing subcontracts TIC Mattress Recycling in Sydney and Melbourne to manage the increased volumes the Scheme is expected to generate. Soft Landing and TIC are co-located in Sydney and Melbourne. Customer service is managed by Soft Landing.

We are looking at all approaches to meet the goal of national coverage, while maintaining our commitment to social outcomes and objectives of the Scheme.

What businesses will the Scheme partner with?

Any business partners must align with the scheme social and environmental commitments and objectives.

Why should industry invest in a scheme on top of the recycling fee?

In NSW mattresses have been listed by the NSW EPA as a priority waste material of concern. They have been banned from landfill in the ACT. Across Australia and internationally governments are paying more attention to this high-volume waste problem. Establishing a voluntary scheme now will reduce the likelihood of further government attention.

A transparent, successful scheme needs funding to establish and expand. The more industry participants involved, the less financial input from Scheme Participants required.

Participation in the Scheme allows members to use the industry partnership brand and associated marketing opportunities.

Where are your recycling facilities?

We have facilities in Sydney,  Newcastle, ACT, Melbourne, and Perth.  Check the Soft Landing website for further information.