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Are Natural Latex Mattresses Biodegradable?

by | May 2, 2021

Latex Mattresses Biodegradability Explained By A Molecular Biologist.

Latex mattresses are one of the most popular alternatives to traditional mattresses. Natural latex is made from a renewable resource and has many advantages over synthetic materials. But what about its biodegradability? Can you throw away a natural latex mattress after it gets old or damaged, or does it need special recycling treatment? This article will explore whether natural latex mattresses are biodegradable and what steps you should take to recycle them after their useful life.

How Natural Latex is Harvested

The harvesting process for natural latex is simple. Like maple syrup, latex trees are tapped at specific times of the year when they produce sap. The process removes a small section of bark, leaving the tree unharmed. For every 100-150 taps on a tree, farmers can collect only about 20 cups of natural latex a day. As a general rule, producing one double mattress requires a whole day’s output of 12 acres of natural latex trees. This means more forests!

This sap is then whipped into a foam which is then poured into moulds. Latex is also one of the only foams that can be moulded into very specific shapes, sizes and densities. This allows for high levels of customisation and personalisation. The whipped latex is then baked at high temperatures, going through vulcanisation, turning it into natural latex foam. This foam is then rinsed to remove any leftovers and proteins.

Latex is a material that has been used for over 100 years, and it’s an environmentally friendly option. It doesn’t produce any harmful byproducts in the manufacturing process, so if you are looking to make your home more eco-friendly, then latex may be right up your alley!

Natural Latex Biodegradability

Biodegradability is a term to describe how easy it is for organic matter to be broken down by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. If you have a compost heap in your garden, this is a good example of biodegradation. The Soil Burial Test is often used to determine a materials biodegradability. This test involves placing a sample of a material such as natural latex foam in the ground and measuring reductions in mass over a specific time period.

Here is the finding of a study

Weight loss of natural latex foam during 3-month soil burial.

As you can see, over the period of three months, there was a significant decrease in the mass of the latex foam. This was due to biodegradation. We can estimate that it takes anywhere from 1 to 2 years for natural latex foam to be fully biodegraded at that rate of breakdown. The study concluded that ‘the weight loss percentage proved the biodegradability of the natural latex foam upon soil burial. The biodegradability of NR latex foam was further supported by the degraded area of the cell structure’.

Natural Latex is Environmentally Friendly

Natural latex is probably the most eco-friendly mattress material in the world. As we have previously proved, natural latex foam is completely biodegradable, which means you can return it to the earth as soon as its useful life is over. However, the benefits for the environment don’t end there.

Most mattresses today are made partly or entirely of petroleum-based foams. This includes memory and polyurethane foams. These foams release VOC’s which are not only bad for you but also the environment. 

Natural latex mattresses do not contain any petroleum-based foams, and as a result, they will never release VOC’s. They are also made without using toxic chemicals like formaldehyde or chlorine, which can be very harmful to the environment.

One of our favourite benefits of natural latex mattress is that they often do not contain toxic fire retardants. People who tend to purchase natural latex mattresses are informed consumers. They have a high standard in what they want their products to be made of and demand from manufacturers a mattress free from harmful chemicals and environmentally friendly.

This does not mean these mattresses are fire retardant. Natural latex will burn if you apply enough heat. However, natural latex mattress companies often find alternative ways to make their mattresses fire retardant without toxic chemicals.

Does Natural Latex Release harmful VOCs?

While the odour of some mattresses can be a sign that chemicals have been used in their production, the smell produced by natural latex is often a sign of its purity.

The smell produced by natural latex mattresses is often described as mild vanilla. However, the odour from these types of mattresses will diminish over time and should not affect your quality of sleep. The smell of natural latex mattresses does not bother most people when they lie down on them for the first time because their senses are distracted by how comfortable the mattresses feels.

Is Natural Latex Safe?

Many people are concerned with the allergy risks of natural latex,however due to the method of production, most people can sleep on a mattress that contains natural latex without experiencing any allergic reactions. Natural latex foam mattresses baking moulded whipped sap in an over at high temperatures. This process denatures the proteins in latex that could cause an allergic reaction. Furthermore, the foam is also washed, which removes most of the rest of the proteins that could cause an allergic reaction.

There has never been a recorded case of latex mattresses causing an allergic reaction in the twenty years that natural latex has been utilised.

Conclusion

Natural latex mattresses are made from100% biodegradable materials. They’re eco-friendly and perfect for those who want to sleep on something that will break down without harming the environment. They also come in many sizes, firmnesses, and thicknesses, so there’s one that is perfect for your needs.

You deserve to sleep well at night knowing you’re not hurting our planet while doing it. With natural latex mattresses, you can rest easy knowing your purchase is helping make this world a better place!

 

About Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.