The Problem With....Inflatable Airbeds
[originally published Sept 2018]
They seem like the perfect solution. Especially at this time of year, when we have friends and family visiting and perhaps not enough 'proper' beds to accommodate them all... so an inflatable mattress that you can then deflate and pop back in a cupboard, until the next visit, is perfect- on the surface...
Since the start of working with salvaged inflatables in 2010, we have now salvaged over 700 [ish!] tonnes of various inflatables and beach fabrics, from landfill.
Since starting Inflatable Amnesty and receiving items from the public, i think it would be safe to say, that over HALF of the defunct inflatables we receive, are airbeds.
Flocked mattresses, camping mattresses [the blow up ones...] thats a LOT of airbeds [in fact, at one point at the end of the camping / summer season, we had to say no to accepting them- we had such a large influx and were having problems accommodating them all!]
As with the vast majority of items we accept, airbeds are made from mixed fabrics, which means they are not easily recycled [if at all!] because the fibres have to be separated in order to do so. Its interesting to me that one of the major problems with these items, is that we have heard many times from various people who have sent them in, that the puncture repair kit provided with the bed, wasn't adequate/ strong enough to successfully repair any damage or tears...
In other cases, perhaps the closure valve had gone missing and when the manufacturers were contacted to provide a replacement, the customer was told that wasn't an option?!
I think this is the problem. When we produce something, we have to be responsible for what happens to it at the end of its life, or at least try to prolong its life in some way, or work with other companies that may enable us to do so...
We didn't start Inflatable Amnesty® with airbeds in mind- but we do still accept them, as we have now been able to find multiple uses for them, [after some trial and error!] Its really important to remember also, that these bags are not a solution to this obvious problem, they are an interim fix. Whilst we do have a repair policy and end of life policy, there should really also be responsibility placed on the manufacturers of these items and researched carried out to ensure that they are as sustainable as possible... as soon as possible!
* update 14th May 2023, we are still at capacity for air beds and are currently not accepting them- if you would like to have a go at repurposing your broken airbed, have a look at our tutorials here *