Child Car Seat Recycling a Sign of Things to Come

Just a few years ago there weren’t many people who would think it was possible to recycle a child car seat, much less have an option to actually do so.

However, since the trial and official launch of the SeatSmart child car seat recycling programme over 8,000 seats have been diverted from landfill.

The programme may seem rather niche in the greater recycling landscape but it’s a sign of things to come, when the majority of items coming into the household will have a pathway for reuse, repurposing or recycling. The increase in volume through SeatSmart over the last year is also an example of the dramatic change in how the public is starting to think and act in more sustainable ways.

SeatSmart began after a staff member at resource recovery experts, 3R Group, tried to responsibly dispose of an expired baby capsule. When told that landfill was the only option, 3R decided to see if they could change that.

3R conducted research which found that most seats have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years, and that each year a minimum of 40,000 seats go to landfill, this despite around 90 per cent of the materials being recyclable. With this in mind 3R put together an initial 18-month-long industry-wide project and trial which resulted in SeatSmart officially being launched on 1 April 2016 in Auckland, Hamilton, Hastings, Tauranga and Nelson.

The programme collected just over 1700 seats in the first year after launch. A surge in the number of collection sites around the country, as well as an increase in seats collected at existing sites, saw the number for the second year top 3000.

New collection sites, driven largely by local council support and matched by public demand, opened over the past year in the Wellington, Manawatu-Whanganui, Canterbury and Otago regions – 16 sites in all. In total the programme boasts 34 sites in 9 regions, with strong public support for more.

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