Commission OKs East Providence Mattress ‘Upcycler’

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — By a 3-2 vote, a special city commission gave the go-ahead for a controversial mattress recycler. At its Dec. 7 meeting, the Waterfront Commission overturned a ruling by its executive director, Jeanne Boyle, and the city's zoning officer, Edward Pimental. Both said the business at 310 Bourne Ave. was prohibited because recycling businesses are specifically not allowed in the waterfront district.

The owner of the building, Preston Halperin, and the owner of the business, Cathy Goulin, appealed on grounds that mattress recyclers had operated at the site previously. They argued that Express Mattress Recyclers LLC dismantles and “upcycles” mattresses, but doesn’t recycle them. The business has been operating since November 2014.

The Waterfront Commission agreed, but placed many restrictions on the business, such as no burning, grinding, or chemical changes to the mattresses. However, the mattresses are disassembled on-site, and treated with a pesticides in trailers that deliver and park at the facility. Hours of operation were limited to 7 a.m.-4 p.m., and closed on Sundays.

Several neighborhood residents expressed concerns about truck and car traffic, and have expressed concerns in the past about such businesses on the waterfront. The Waterfront Commission decided that it was up to the city to decide if the facility could accept mattresses directly from the public.

Terms of the state’s 2013 mattress recycling law are expected this spring. It’s anticipated that the law will seek locations for public delivery. So far, Rhode Island has two mattress dismantling companies: Mattress Express Recyclers and Ace Mattress Recycling, both in West Warwick.