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USEL Championing the Circular Economy

Usel, a social enterprise established in 1962 to provide supported paid employment for people within its Belfast manufacturing base, collects mattresses from council recycling centres, bed retailers and hoteliers across the province and brings them back to their licenced facility where they brough back to life. 100% of mattresses collected are diverted from landfill.

The matteresses are disassembled into various components, such as foam, polyester, steel, wool and cotton depending on the type of mattress.  These components are then segregated and sent on to other facilities for further processing and reused in a number of different ways such as carpet underlay, acoustic dampening in cars and the steel spring is sent to a local metal recycler to be melted down for reuse.  96% of each mattress is recycled.  The remaining 4% is sent to energy from waste.

The councils that Usel have partnered with, to date, include Belfast City Council, Mid East Antrim, Derry City & Strabane and Mid Ulster Council.  Bed retailers and hoteliers include Harvey Normans, Dreams and Holiday Inn. 

Usel is the largest organisation in Northern Ireland to provide this service.  In addition to reducing waste, driving greater resource productivity and significantly reducing the environmental impact of mattress disposal, Usel is creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities and health related conditions within our recycling operation.

Usel is currently in the early stages of a pilot with Belfast City Council to recycle carpet.  It is estimated that 7,000 tonne of carpet is sent to landfill every year in Northern Ireland.  The process being trialled would result in 100% diversion rate from landfill and 100% of the carpet being recycled.

Usel have also entered into an innovative project with Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) as part of the recently awarded response maintenance contract. This contract provides maintenance repairs to approx. 90,000 social housing units across Northern Ireland.  Usel clear void NIHE properties, bringing the contents of the property to its Cambrai Street site.  The contents are segregated and either recycled, gifted to those with social housing needs or disposed of.  Usel are currently working in partnership with H&A Martin Mechanical Repairs in Antrim and Newtownabbey, Carillion within the Mid Ulster/Down region and CTS Project in Lisburn.  Early indications show a diversion of approximately 70% waste from landfill.