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What to Do With Old Car Seats

Proper disposal isn't as simple as you think

Marianne Merawi
by Marianne Merawi
August 15, 2014
2 min. Reading Time
recycle your child car-seat after 6 years

recycle your child car-seat after 6 years

You’re cleaning out your garage and find an old child car seat under a pile of your kids’ other stuff. The seat is gross and likely expired (most car seats are unsafe to use after six years from the date of manufacture).  Just toss it on the curb on trash day with all the other junk you’re getting rid of, right? Not so fast!

First, check with a local Babies R Us store and see when they will be doing their next trade-in event. They do these periodically and will accept any baby gear item (regardless of condition) and give you a 20% discount on any one item you buy from them in return. All car seats turned in at these events are recycled, never resold, so this is definitely worth waiting for if you can. If for whatever reason that won’t work for you, read on to see the right way to throw away your car seat.

Second: Render it unusable

The responsible way to dispose of an expired, crashed, or otherwise unsafe seat takes a little more effort than just leaving it out for the garbage truck. Before you throw it out, you’ll first need to render it unusable. No matter how beat up or dirty it looks, there are people who will grab anything they see on the curb and try to use or sell it. A child riding in a crashed or expired seat could be seriously injured or killed, so it’s very important to take the time to do this right.

First, remove the fabric cover from the seat. If it’s in good shape, it’s fine to keep it if you have another seat it fits on. If not, cut it into a couple of pieces and put it in the garbage can. Then, cut off the harness straps and throw them out as well. Write “EXPIRED, DO NOT USE” or “CRASHED” or something like that on the shell of the seat with a permanent marker. If the seat comes apart into pieces, take it apart. You could also take a sledgehammer to it if you need a little exercise and stress relief!

 Photo by AftertheKidsGoToBed.com

Photo by AftertheKidsGoToBed.com

Third: Find a way to recycle

Unfortunately, in most of the United States, there is no place to drop off car seats for the plastic and metal parts to be recycled. On the following page are links to some locations that do accept car seats for recycling. If you aren’t able to recycle your seat, put any pieces that fit into the garbage cans on the curb. If any won’t fit, they should be left out on the curb in a black garbage bag.

Getting rid of the rest of that junk in your garage sounds pretty easy by comparison, doesn't it? Good--now get back to work on that!

 Photo by Health2fit.com

Photo by Health2fit.com

List of places that recycle car seats

Here is a partial list of places that accept car seats for recycling. If none of these are near you, contact your city or county recycling program to find out whether they accept child safety seats or any of their components.

Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Southern California: TMC Horizon

Boulder, CO: Eco-Cycle

Evergreen, CO: EDS

Montgomery County, MD:  County Recycling Program

Ann Arbor, MI: Recycle Ann Arbor

Grand Rapids, MI:

Stearns County, MN:  Greenseats Car Seat Recycling Program

Bellevue, NE: Offutt Collision Repair

Morristown, NJ: Shade Tree Garage

Cleveland, OH: University Hospitals

Oregon: Legacy Health

Austin, TX (can drop off there or ship at your expense from anywhere): BabyEarth

Park City, UT: Recycle Utah

Salt Lake County, UT: Safe Kids

Tooelle, UT: GreenBox

Toronto, CANADA: Clek


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