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About 6 years after manufacture, you need to replace your child's car seat or booster. The expiration date is stamped on the seat, usually on the bottom. Car seats and booster seats have expiration dates because the materials degrade over time, weakening their effectiveness in a crash.
What to do with that big hunk of plastic? At least 90% of car seat material can be recycled. Though recycling options were nonexistent just a few years ago, now car seat recycling drives take place in many cities in the US. Recycling options are growing, too, with increased interest and awareness.
Read below to see if a car seat recycling program exists in your area. If not, you can take the first step in helping your city begin a car seat recycling program by calling your local recycler and volunteering to organize a car seat recycling event.
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Car Seat Recycling Programs
Colorado Children's Automobile Safety Foundation (CCASF)
Started in 2002 by Bill Flinchbaugh, the CCASF's car seat recycling program has grown steadily each year. In 2008, the center recycled over 4,000 expired, damaged, or abandoned car seats. Utilizing the court system's pool of mandated volunteers, Bill collects, deconstructs, and sorts the car seats for recycling at a local recycle center. To learn more about the program, contact Bill at 303-931-3443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Car Seat Installation Check & Recycling Events in Portland, OR
Legacy Health System in Portland regularly holds car seat safety checks, which also include a drop off site for car seat recycling. If you don't make it to one of their safety events, Legacy has an open cart drop off in the city where you can bring your car seats anytime. For more information, contact Tom Badrick, Sustainability Coordinator for Legacy Health System at email@example.com.
Safe, Sound & Green: Car Seat Safety Checks and Recycling Drives in Seattle
In 2008, Safe Kids King County and other organizations sponsored Seattle's first ever car seat recycling drive. Due to its popularity, the safety check was also offered in April, 2009. These events are usually staged at IKEA Seattle. Visit IKEA Seattle's homepage (under community) to check for upcoming events.
Recycle Utah's Car Seat Recycle Events
Recycle Utah in Park City sponsored its first car seat recycling event in 2008. Volunteers were on hand to disassemble the car seats for recycling, saving the straps for reuse at a local bag manufacturer. If you live in the Park City area, call 435-729-0554 or visit recycleutah.org to ask about upcoming car seat recycling events.
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Colorado Children's Automobile Safety Foundation - http://www.carseatprogram.com/