Boxed Springs: a mattress debacle


Colorado Mattress Recycling owner Tim Keenan says he's "crazy busy" right now, up monthly more than 1,000 pieces of big recyclables than this time last year. 

But success can at times come paired with setbacks, such as a spillover mess of materials that inspired a neighbor's complaint, then a recent visit from city code enforcement. 

Keenan's no stranger to that department, whose officers have been friendly enough in the past when rightfully enforcing his former violations, eventually compelling him to move to his current location off Fillmore Street. 

The problem this time is that the officers are now saying that Keenan isn't operating under the correct zoning — that he is now under a commercial space and needs to be in an industrial one instead. 

"I thought this was," he says, noting he's been in the location since August, 2012, in an area that any passersby would easily mistake for a large industrial park. 

On the first of this month, he received a notice from the city that he must move by June 1, so while he will likely try and apply for a use variance in the coming days to stay in the spot, he's also launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for a move. 
Colorado Mattress Recycling does its best to keep your old sleep pad out of the dump. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • Colorado Mattress Recycling does its best to keep your old sleep pad out of the dump.

Should a variance be granted, he says he would place any donations toward other needs, such as a larger trailer to more efficiently haul mattress springs to the shredder in Denver, plus more drop-off bins to account for new business that's come from nearby Waste Management ceasing its free recycling center. Also, he's like to employ more workers, which as part of another social mission, includes men from halfway houses or correctional facilities like ComCor. 

One problem Keenan says he's already encountering is significantly higher rent situations as he searches for nearby spaces that are still close enough for his workers to reach easily as well as would-be recyclers who likely won't wish to drive far outside city limits to drop recyclables.

He says many of the warehouse spaces are trying to attract marijuana growers and have made electrical upgrades and other investments to the spots, and are thereby asking as much as twice the amount per square foot that he's currently paying. 

This forced move does risk putting Colorado Mattress Recycling out of business, he says, even though his community support and donation numbers are at an all-time high right now. 

If Colorado Mattress Recycling closes, he believes no other site in town will accept mattresses, and the dumps charge people more money to drop them because they don't want them filling up excess space, as they can't be compacted. 

By April's end, Keenan expects to surpass 100,000 mattress recycles (for which people now pay $10 to drop) since the business opened, having bailed more than a million pounds of fabrics. Even with a commodities market that's been in a slump since the recession, the business has managed to grow. 

Both the dumps and the city appreciates the green service, which also receives a list of other recyclables including electronics, and Keenan feels that despite a couple of messes, he's been a good community neighbor, hosting several recycling events throughout El Paso County each year. 

"I need to catch a break," he says. "I'm not sure why it's so hard to run a recycling company, but it is difficult to keep one operating." 

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