Where And How to Recycle Child Car Seats

Your child has out-grown their car seat and it leaves you with a child car seat you no longer need and you don’t know what to do with.

What to do With an Old Child Car Seat?

You could sell it, donate it, or pass it on to friends and family. But child safety experts generally advise that you should never buy a second-hand car seat. The seat may be worn or damaged in ways that aren’t immediately obvious to you. So while it might seem like a good idea to pass on the seat to someone who needs it, really it’s best for everyone if new parents stick to buying new seats.

You could take the seat to the tip, but it’s much better to recycle it. Yet unfortunately, recycling old child car seats can be more challenging than you might think.

Can You Recycle Child Car Seats?

Child car seats are not easy to recycle. You can take the child car seat apart yourself, and recycle all of the various components separately. But this will take you quite a while. And as child car seats are built for durability, you may even need some specialist tools to remove some components.

In some areas, councils might strip old child car seats of all the recyclable elements – such as the metal and the plastics – but other than that, child car seats are not easily recyclable.

How to Find Out If My Car Seat is Recyclable?

Certain manufacturers have tried to make child car seats out of nothing but recycled materials. But so far, none seem to have succeeded in creating an eco-friendly seat that still guarantees your child’s safety and there isn’t yet a viable, widely-used way of recycling them.

Why Are Child Car Seats So Hard to Recycle?

Child car seats are made from many different materials. They contain lots of fabric, but they also contain metals, plastics, and certain other synthetic materials. And because the seat might have to withstand high impacts, all of these materials are bonded together as strongly as possible.

Where Can I Recycle My Child Car Seat?

You can call your local council and ask about their waste processing capabilities. In some areas, councils might strip old child car seats of all the recyclable elements – such as the metal and the plastics – before throwing the rest into an incinerator along with other waste materials. This is bad for carbon emissions. But as some councils use incinerators to generate energy, this is still a good alternative to simply sending the old seat to a landfill.

And the bad news is, these are basically your only options. It’s not a good idea to sell a second hand child car seat, and you can’t recycle them by conventional means. So at the moment, it’s a choice between the landfill, the incinerator, and storage.

But the good news is that parents, businesses and waste disposal specialists around the world are aware of this problem, and we’re already starting to see some possible solutions.

The Future of Recycling Child Car Seats

As we mentioned above, companies have had limited success in building a fully-recyclable child car seat. But they’re not going to stop trying.

Take-back services

Some consumer groups are also calling on child car seats manufacturers to offer take-back services. Essentially, once you no longer need your child car seat, you should be able to send it back to the manufacturers. They’ll then either dispose of the seat for you in an ethical and sustainable way, or else strip it for materials to use in other car seats.

Trade-in services

Other consumer groups have suggested that places that sell child car seats offer trade-in services. If you can’t send the seat back to the manufacturers, you should be able to take it back to the retailers. In exchange for vouchers, they could take the seat off your hands and handle the ethical disposal themselves.

So to conclude, you might not be able to dispose of your old child car seat as ethically and sustainably as you might like for now. This is frustrating for everyone, from parents, to councils, to retailers, to manufacturers.

The incinerator is an imperfect alternative to recycling, but at least it’s better than a landfill. And you can at least rest-assured that the pressure’s on to find a good long-term solution for recycling child car seats.

Even before your child outgrows their car seat, you might have to replace it from time to time. Replacing a car seat can be expensive, so it’s important to choose a car insurance policy that will cover you for this.

If you have a child’s car seat fitted in your vehicle and you are involved in an accident, or if it is damaged following a fire or theft, we will pay towards the cost of a replacement seat even if it doesn’t appear to be damaged.

For more information, please refer to the policy wording.


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