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.

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