Recycle Car Seats: Saving Kids, Saving Earth
How can we better accomplish both saving kids and the Earth at the same time? Recycle car seats.
Why is it important to figure out recycling for our car seats anyway?
Well first of all, we are all required by law to use car seats for our children. Approximately 4 million babies born a year. The average child is in some stage of child restraint until they are at least 8 (by many state laws) or older if they stay in one until they pass the 5-step seat belt fit test. That means at any given time there are millions upon millions of car seats in use.
Secondly, car seats expire. Because of being exposed to extreme conditions like, heat and sun and freezing cold, the plastic car seats are made of may start to degrade after some years. (Expiration dates vary. Check your car seat for an expiration date. It should be on the label or stamped in the plastic.) Not to mention safety recalls that could potentially put millions of car seats out of commission at once.
Lastly, car seats often need to be replaced after they are involved in a crash because the stress the car seat is built to take on (on behalf of your child) weakens the safety structure of the seat.
That equals a lot of car seats no longer being used every year. If they all go to the landfill, that equals big mountains of hard plastic and metal parts waiting years upon years to deteriorate.
Recycling Car Seats
According to Angelica M. Baker, Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Safety Passenger Specialist, “Garage sales and trash cans are not the answer to unwanted, old car seats – de-manufacturing and recycling is,” Baker explains. “This is the proper way to dispose of car seats. It’s important not to throw car seats in the dump. We have seen many cases where people will pull old car seats out of dumpsters or trash cans and use them.”
Dismantling car seats does require a little work, but it’s worthwhile. It will help keep people from using unsafe seats.
Here is a brief article posted on Safe Kids by May Romo of Safe Kids Salt Lake County explaining her take on the issue of recycling car seats. It succinctly describes how we at Safe Ride 4 Kids feel so we’re sharing it in full. Read on…
Unfortunately, this program in Utah is no longer active. But we still like her philosophy so we looked up programs in our local community. Can we all keep reusable materials like plastic and metal out of the landfill?
Find your Your local safety seat recycling programs
In Colorado, the Department of Transportation offers a recycling program for car seats. You can drop off old, expired, or damaged car seats to one of several locations around the state.
We found the Recycle Your Car Seat website which lists programs in some other states as well. If the website doesn’t list state your state, you can search online for programs near you.
Some big box stores offer trade-in programs periodically where you can bring in your old car seat for recycling and they give you a discount on your next seat or a gift card to use in their store. Target has been doing this for years. They offer a 20% discount for other baby gear in return for the used/crashed/expired seat. They work with Waste Management to collect and recycle car seats to be turned into other goods.
And Walmart started program in 2019 in association with TerraCycle. Walmart offers $30 gift cards to customers who bring in car seats for recycling.
Keep an eye out at these stores for when their next event will be. (Target just finished one last week.) They often have them in September in conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week.
Plus, some car seat manufacturers offer recycling programs. You can contact the manufacturer for your car seat to see if they have a program to recycle your car seat.
Re-using/Recycling Your RideSafer
Since the original first generations of the RideSafer Travel Vest didn’t have an expiration date and the current models have an expiration date of 10 years, they can withstand a lot of use in their lives. We have a trade-up program for people who have a small vest and need to upgrade to a large (or a large who need to upgrade to an extra large).
We ask that customers donate uncrashed vests to programs that take child restraints to give to low income families who would otherwise not afford them. When we have used vests or old but usable demos, we donate vests locally to WeeCycle. We will be happy to take donated small or large vests to these programs. You also can return used/old vests to the manufacturer for recycling. Or you can search for a program near you.
No Recycle Option near You?
If there isn’t a car seat recycling program near you, this is what you can do to help reduce waste:
- Your car seat is not expired or crashed and still complies with current safety standards, donate it to a local charity.
- If your car seat is definitely ready to go bye-bye for good:
- Dismantle the car seat
- Separate any parts from the car seat that cannot be reused or recycled
- Recycle any plastic or metal that you can
- Take any fabrics to compost or to a reuse facility
Have you looked for a recycling program in your area? If you know of other programs, please share in the comments below.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2021 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
We originally published this post in November 2014. We updated the article for accuracy and comprehensiveness.