Has the return-if-not-satisfied business model contributed to ever increasing mattress wastage?

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You might have heard of mattress retailers offering sleep-and-return-if-not-satisfied policies. This business model has now evolved to such an extent that many customers are simply returning mattresses within the return period and therefore adding to the already huge 8 million mattresses disposed in the UK each year.

Traditionally consumers would change a mattress every 8 to 10 years. But with the development of roll-down technology where mattresses can simply be packed into small, easily shippable boxes there’s now at least 175 companies that will ship roll-down mattresses to your front door; one of the first movers in this area being the US firm Casper, which was valued at nearly one billion pounds in 2019.

Most of these companies offer a 100-day comfort guarantee where consumers can return their mattresses for a full refund if for any reason they are not satisfied. Some, such as Nectar, even offer a 365-day guarantee.

This can lead to a worryingly number of consumers technically jumping between these providers for high-quality mattresses at no cost. A calculated consumer can potentially take advantage of all the offers available and would be able to sleep on a free mattress for eight years. The worrying trend is that the liberal return policies are only causing more retailers to also match the offers to remain competitive. With a high return rate, an increase in mattresses being disposed is inevitable.

A standard mattress retailer would aim for a return rate of less than 5%, however research carried by the NBF has highlighted how some retailers have a much worrying 20% return or even more.

With such business models growing, the need for mattress recycling is imperative in order to balance the portion of mattresses being sent to landfill opposed to those being recycled.

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