ZURICH, SWITZERLAND—According to SWISSFEEL AG, a Zurich, Switzerland maker of foam mattresses, every year 40 million mattresses from Europe end up in the trash. Philipp Hangartner, CEO of SWISSFEEL AG, says those mattresses will most likely get incinerated. That business model is not acceptable to Hangartner and that is why his company has come up with a mattress made from a special Swiss mineral foam that can be laundered. This can double the life of the mattress from about five years to ten. With a second wash, mattress life can be tripled.
“Our business model is a very green business model,” Hangartner says, adding that his company will take the mattress back at the end of its life and have the foam recycled for other uses—pillows or insulation material, for example—extending its life out for another 20 to 25 years. The mattress industry is currently working on being able to break down used foam into its original raw materials that would then be reused for new foam. While now achievable in the lab, Hangartner expects it to be done on a large scale in coming years.
SWISSFEEL’s business model is not only good for the environment but of course for the bottom line as well.
Hotels in Europe have been using SWISSFEEL mattresses for quite some time. Hangartner says one customer’s mattresses have already been washed two times.
SWISSFEEL Handles the Washing, Drying
The laundering of a SWISSFEEL mattress is done by SWISSFEEL using a 15 metric ton machine with a 2.5-meter diameter drum. While a mattress is being laundered, a loaner mattress is provided so that the guestroom is never taken out of circulation. The mattress is dried through a microwaving process that takes 15 minutes.
“Through the nuking there is a rejuvenation of the foam cells,” Hangartner says. The laundering removes hair, sweat, skin particles and any other dirt that has accumulated over the years. In a typical mattress environment, skin particles become food for dust mites.
SWISSFEEL’s circular, rather than linear, business model, saves up to 77 percent of the CO2 emissions associated with the life of a mattress. This year SWISSFEEL had a lifecycle analysis conducted by Carbotech AG to prove that. Carbotech compared conventional foam and spring coil mattresses with SWISSFEEL. Various scenarios were calculated in a standardized procedure, and emissions and resource consumption were considered quantitatively over the entire life cycle and evaluated using scientifically established methods.
While currently only in Europe, Hangartner says his company’s business model and processes can be replicated anywhere in the world. “If there is enough demand, the production of the foam could be in the U.S.,” he says.
For any hotel using a SWISSFEEL mattress, Hangartner says it can be a great tool to show how sustainable the property is.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.