More than 40,000 child car restraints reach their expiry date each year in New Zealand. Most end up in a landfill, despite around 90 per cent of a typical seat being recyclable.
“Many people aren’t aware that car seats have a limited life span of six to ten years,” says Toni Bye, SeatSmart programme manager. “Exposure to sunlight, changes in temperature, and stress from accidents can cause materials to degrade and weaken over time, which may affect how they would perform in an accident.
“People generally send their old seats to the landfill, which is a waste of resources, or give them away which could unnecessarily put a child at risk. With SeatSmart, expired or damaged seats can be safely taken out of circulation and the materials recycled or repurposed for a small fee of $10 per seat to cover costs.”
Mrs Bye says baby equipment retailer, Baby on the Move, have supported SeatSmart right from the start, with many of their stores acting as collection sites. The Pukekohe store, located in the Mega Centre, is the latest to join.
“SeatSmart is a great initiative – we’ve had plenty of demand for the programme with some seats brought in for recycling before we officially started,” says store owner Ange Hook.
“It’s good to keep car seats out of landfill, plus we believe it’s so important to have a compliant car seat that we will waive the recycling fee if customers are purchasing a new seat from us.”
Hastings-based recycling specialists, 3R Group, created SeatSmart, New Zealand’s only child car seat recycling programme.
“We like to think that landfill should be the last option, not the default,” says Mrs Bye. “So often, products that are put in the ‘too hard basket’ and simply dumped are highly recyclable. Mattresses, tyres, paint, chemical containers, contaminated plastics, these are just some of the products that we tackle.”
So far SeatSmart has been introduced in eight centres: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Hastings, Hutt Valley, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch. In the short time it has been operating more than 4600 seats have been recycled.
The plastic from the seats is recycled into new products used in the building industry and metal parts are also easily recycled. “The straps and webbing are used by Karkt NZ and The Green Collective who make handmade bags from recycled items. Only fabric covers and some mixed plastics, which make up a small portion of the seat by weight, are currently unable to be recycled – but we’re working on that!”
SeatSmart is supported by a number of councils and organisations including Auckland Council, Baby on the Move, Hastings District Council, Hutt City Council, Plunket, Selwyn District Council, Upper Hutt City Council, Wellington City Council and the Department of Corrections.
Collection site details:
Baby on the Move – Pukekohe Mega Centre, Unit 6, 182-196 Manukau Road, Pukekohe. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 4.00pm
More information can be found on www.SeatSmart.co.nz.
Image: Mike and Ange Hook of Baby on the Move Pukekohe will be accepting expired or damaged seats for recycling.