The Carlton County Transfer Station has more mattresses than it can dispose of and nowhere to take them, on top of seeing increased traffic from people purging their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heather Cunningham, Zoning and Environmental Services administrator, said clean, dry mattresses are usually taken from the transfer station to Goodwill for recycling, but Goodwill closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The transfer station stopped accepting mattresses to be recycled as a result.

Mattresses that are wet and/or dirty cannot be recycled and go to the City of Superior Landfill, along with all other solid waste collected at the facility, Cunningham said. In 2019, the transfer station took 1,292 mattresses for recycling and 1,037 to the landfill. The transfer station is still accepting wet and dirty mattresses from licensed haulers and the highway department.

Cunningham told the Carlton County Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday, May 12, that she is concerned because residents have been tossing unwanted mattresses into ditches and on roadsides since the transfer station stopped accepting them from the public.

Cunningham was told by the City of Superior that extra mattresses would overwhelm their system.

“They do not want the additional mattresses that would normally have been recycled,” Cunningham said. “Mattresses 'float' up to the top of the landfill, no matter how hard you try and bury them.”

She said she is looking into other options. She told the commissioners that the cost of other locations she has contacted is almost double what the transfer station charges.

Cunningham also said she is concerned about the increased traffic at the transfer station since the shelter-in-place mandate was put in place.

Normally, the transfer station sees 100 to 150 customers, but on Monday May 4, they had 278 customers and 25 garbage trucks. Three of the garbage trucks were not able to get in and had to go elsewhere.

Garbage trucks are having a difficult time with the increased traffic, and sometimes the line spills down Highway 210 and the wait can be 45 minutes to an hour long, she said.

“That little facility was not designed for this type of traffic,” Cunningham said.

District 3 Commissioner Tom Proulx asked if hiring another cashier or extending hours on Saturdays or Sundays would bring relief.

Cunningham said she has interviews set up for another cashier position.

“Hopefully it will slow down when people get back to work,” Cunningham said.