MT/Sprout: "Ubed makes a mattress from 100 percent recyclable materials"

MT/Sprout: "Ubed maakt een matras van 100 procent recyclebare materialen" - Ubed

By Marco Vlot

The Van Gendthallen in East Amsterdam are five large factory halls where steam engines and locomotives used to be made. It is an impressive complex, which is currently being renovated to make way for catering, startups, shops and more.

Ubed is located in a part that has already been completed. There are mattresses in different sizes against the high walls and a bed in a corner. “Just lie down,” says CEO Wouter Simons. We won't let ourselves be told that twice.

Mattress made of recyclable materials

About 1.5 million used mattresses are thrown away in the Netherlands every year. A party like RetourMatras turns this into new raw materials, but this involves downcycling. 'Many mattresses are ultimately ground and processed into judo mats or insulation material,' says Simons. A new mattress is never made from an old mattress.

This can be done differently, says Ubed.

'Regular mattresses are often made of foam and are therefore difficult to recycle, for example because chemicals are used to bond parts together,' says Simons. 'We have developed a mattress from which we can take the materials back at the end of their lifespan to use them again in our own mattresses.'

Ubed mattresses consist entirely of polyester and metal springs, without any other chemicals.

Modular and easy to clean

Another feature is that the mattresses are modular. They consist of multiple layers that can be exchanged individually. This way, if one part wears out faster than another, the entire mattress does not need to be replaced, which extends its lifespan. And if a user prefers to lie on a slightly harder or softer surface, this can be done by replacing just one layer.

'Another advantage is that you can zip off the top layer and put it in the wash, while you can rinse the layer underneath in the shower,' Simons adds.

In addition, Ubed has also thought about delivery. 'We will deliver it ourselves in transport covers that we can then take back with us.' And when the mattress or part runs out, Ubed will pick it up again.

Comfort for two people

Of course, the sustainable aspect of the mattresses is important, but the comfort of the user also - or perhaps even - plays a major role at Ubed. In this way, the mattress tackles a problem known to many.

"If two people sleep on one mattress, there is a good chance that they will have different preferences," explains head of marketing Bram Evers. 'Some people like a warmer or colder mattress, others like it harder or softer.'

The outcome is often a compromise on a double mattress, or two separate mattresses with a gap in the middle.

'Because we make mattresses that are adjusted per side based on weight, length and sleeping position, everyone sleeps on the right mattress,' says Evers. This means that two people can lie on one even mattress, each according to their own preferences.

In addition, the mattress is designed for optimal ventilation, which the marketer demonstrates by burying his face in it and continuing to talk quietly. 'This way everyone can maintain the ideal sleeping temperature.'

Extend the lifespan of mattresses

The design for the Ubed mattress comes from Frans de la Haye. The industrial designer previously made a splash with the successful Auronde bed, and there is no motorist who has never refueled at a petrol station he designed.

'Frans always designs with the user and the environment in mind,' says Evers. 'He mainly looks at how the lifespan of a product can be extended in order to ultimately consume less material and energy.'

The insights of De la Haye, who said years ago that the foam in mattresses is bad for the environment, ultimately led to the first design of the mattress and in 2015 to the founding of Ubed. After the company remained on the shelf for a few years, De la Haye took it to entrepreneur Eduard Zanen in 2019.

He also attaches great importance to sustainability. Shortly afterwards, they involved Simons, who studied technical business administration and econometrics and was currently working at Shell, to take over the day-to-day management of the company. 'That's when it really took off.'

A few years later, Evers joined. "Up until that moment everything went through my hands, but that became too much," says Simons. 'In addition, I do not have the marketing knowledge that Bram has.'

Evers is no stranger to Ubed. Simons and he have known each other for some time and sometimes talk about the company. That gives Evers so much energy that he doesn't have to think long about the offer to focus entirely on Ubed.

New products besides mattresses

With Evers on board, Ubed is entering a new phase. The product has now been extensively developed, so it is time to put it on the market. 'There was a website, but it still needed to be significantly tweaked,' says Evers. 'The new website went online in August and since then we have seen increasing traction.'

When communicating with potential customers, Ubed mainly emphasizes the comfort of the mattresses. That is a conscious choice. 'Responsibility for sustainability lies with producers,' says Simons. 'You have to make it easy for the consumer to be sustainable, because ultimately they find it most important that the mattress is comfortable. That is what we have focused on, but we also ensure that the sustainable aspect is in order at the back.'

Simons still has plans for the future. In addition to the mattress, the company also develops new products. For example, the Ubed fitted sheet has recently come onto the market. 'It is made of linen, because it is durable and, just like the mattress, has an open structure that provides good ventilation.'

The gentlemen remain silent about what else is in store. "Something very exciting is coming."

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