OAKLAND (KCBS)— Preventing people from illegally dumping mattresses is the focus of a new pilot program now underway in Alameda County. Using grant money, the county’s waste management agency plans on paying people for bringing their old, unwanted mattress to a recycler.

StopWaste is the Alameda County agency that implements solid waste programs. Gary Wolff, the program’s executive director, said illegally dumped mattresses are an unsightly and extremely costly problem.

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“I think people see mattresses on the streets sometimes think, ‘Oh, that’s ugly. That’s too bad.’ But I don’t think people understand that it’s in the vicinity of half a million mattresses a year being dumped into our common spaces around the state and a burden of $20 million for our local government to clean them up,” he said.

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StopWaste is using a $25 thousand grant to put bounties on mattresses, offering $12 for a king, $10 for a queen and $6 for a twin to be paid out when the bedding is brought to Oakland-based mattress recycler— DR3.

“We’re going to find out whether that’s enough incentive for people who scavenge materials and sell them, of whom there are a great many in our society, to find out whether that’s enough money for them to move mattresses to the appropriate location.”

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Wolff said information from the pilot will be used to develop a statewide mattress recycling program that goes into effect next January.