Expired child car seat? You have no choice but to trash it

China’s decision to stop accepting waste plastic puts a hold on area car seat recycling programs.

It’s Child Passenger Safety Week, a time to pay extra attention to making sure the seat into which you strap your child is up to par — including whether that car seat has reached the end of its useful life.

If it has, you’re left with little choice but to send it to a landfill.

One of the ripple effects to uncertainty over China’s decision to stop accepting waste plastic and other “foreign garbage” is a hold on area car seat recycling programs.

The folks at the “Old Car Seat, New Life” project, based in King County, recently reported that many car seat recycling programs have been suspended.

Those include Recology, which operates in several cities, including Bothell, and Total Reclaim, in Seattle — the two closest options for Snohomish County families. Republic Services, which recycled car seats for Bellevue residents, also discontinued its program.

Legacy Emmanuel Hospital, which offers one of the region’s largest recycling programs in Portland, Oregon, also ended its car seat recycling program.

There are nearly 50,000 children under the age of 5 in Snohomish County. Each one of them is likely to sit in two to three types of seats as they grow. At the low end, that’s 100,000 seats fated for the trash from just one generation of preschoolers.

Car seat recycling already was a rare service, and it usually cost consumers some kind of fee. The process to take apart the bulky items, that are heavy on composite materials, is not easy.

Then, in July, China notified the World Trade Organization that it would stop accepting shipments of many kinds of waste, including many types of plastics.

China is a major importer of waste. Last year it imported 7.3 million tons of waste plastics, valued at $3.7 billion, accounting for 56 percent of world imports, according to Reuters. The United States was one of the top 3 sources.

The Seattle-based car seat group still keeps a list of car seat recycling programs across the nation and in Canada, at recycleyourcarseat.org/where-do-i-recycle-my-seat. But if you hope to use any of those services, you should call ahead to make sure the service is still offered.

“We hope that as markets shift, our recyclers will once again be able to accept car seats,” writes CoolMom’s Kimberly Christensen.

Absent recycling, expired car seats should be dumped. Cut the straps, mark the seat “destroy” with permanent marker, and put it in your garbage.

Have a question? Email us at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Drivers heading north on Interstate 5 will take a detour from Highway 104 to 220th Street SW and back to I-5 this weekend during nightly lane closures for Sound Transit light rail work. (Sound Transit)
Light rail work closing I-5 North lanes nightly this weekend

Crews need to close northbound lanes between 220th Street SW and Highway 104. Drivers have two detour options.

Pro skateboarding competition coming to Everett in August

Street League Skateboarding’s championship tour will be at Angel of the Winds arena for two days.

Cars drive through the intersection of Highway 9 and South Lake Stevens Road on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 9 to close this weekend in south Lake Stevens

Detours take drivers around the closure between 20th Street SE and 32nd Street SE from Friday night to Monday morning.

Empty shelves in the baby formula section at a grocery store in Lynnwood, Washington. (Jacqueline Allison / The Herald)
Amid baby formula shortage, local moms scrambling to feed babies

Shelves are bare and prices are up. But there are resources for Snohomish County mothers in need.

$1 million bail for Everett ampm shooting suspect

The suspect, 36, is accused of shooting an acquaintance Monday, dumping the gun in a dumpster and fleeing from police.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County seeks input on spending American Rescue Plan dollars

In-person events across the county will help guide more than $80 million in federal recovery money.

Mandy Jeffcott and Aaron King explore the area beneath a highway underpass while conducting a PIT count Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County homelessness rose to 10-year high, count shows

Data released Monday confirmed what advocates suspected: The local homeless population grew amid the pandemic.

Sam Bowles records the run off the water from a chalk drawing with friend and co-artist, Rhyanna Mercer, Tuesday afternoon in Everett, Washington on May 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jackson High’s global TikTok star is chalk full of ideas

Sam Bowles, 18, uses vibrant videos and social media fame to raise awareness of autism.

Dan Bates / The Herald
When Seattle Genetics founder, Clay Siegall lost his father while in college, he switched from studying for an MD to studying for a PhD., and a goal to treat cancer patients.  His efforts are paying off in lives.
Bothell biotech CEO resigns after domestic-violence allegation

Clay Siegall co-founded Seagen, which develops therapies for cancer patients. He’s accused of attacking his wife.

Most Read