Coming soon: program to recycle kids' car seats
Old, unwanted and potentially unsafe child car safety seats will be given a new lease of life under a government-funded program that will recover and recycle the seats.
Via the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund (NPSIF), and in accordance with the National Waste Policy Action Plan, SeatCare aims to help the public safely dispose of used child car safety seats for recycling.
It is estimated that over 200,000 child car seats are disposed of every year, with the majority being sent to landfill. This is despite the fact that over 80% of child car safety seats can be recycled once dismantled.
Equilibrium — in collaboration with a group of manufacturers, retailers and child safety and automotive organisations* — is designing the program, which aims to improve road safety while also reducing waste to landfill and costs to the community through illegal dumping of child car seats.
Child car safety seats have a limited lifespan and their integrity can be compromised by factors such as accidents, time/age, temperature, sunlight and general wear and tear that results from use and moving them in and out of vehicles numerous times.
Currently, there is no program to support the take-back of old child car safety seats in Australia. A trial in 2018–2019 found there is a growing public desire for a program and that it is feasible to recover the seats and dismantle them.
SeatCare aims to provide parents and carers with a free and environmentally friendly option for disposing of their old child car seats. By collecting and disassembling the seats onsite, the program aims to divert in excess of 900 tonnes of waste from landfill.
It is expected that the SeatCare scheme will accept a variety of child car safety seats and associated accessories, including rear-facing carriers and forward-facing seats; booster seats; car seat and carrier frames, as well as strapping; and items that attach directly to the seat or carrier supported by the manufacturer.
The NPSIF has been created to support product stewardship schemes which reduce waste and prevent harmful materials from ending up in landfill. These schemes increase recycling activity and the recovery of valuable materials from the products we use every day.
“Funding for SeatCare is a vote of confidence in industry’s ambition to develop and implement a community-friendly collection and recycling scheme,” Equilibrium General Manager Damien Wigley said.
“SeatCare is an excellent example of how manufacturers, auto associations, safety advocates and environmental specialists can create positive waste-reduction programs that meet consumer expectations.
“The SeatCare program will provide a unique community service that can improve road safety while also reducing waste to landfill through an industry-led stewardship program that is family-friendly,” he said.
“SeatCare is a national first, and has been formed to include the key players across the life cycle of child car safety seats, including manufacturers, automobile associations, Kidsafe, retailers and product stewardship specialists.
“SeatCare demonstrates how voluntary approaches to product stewardship can be achieved in a timely and outcome-oriented way. Multi-stakeholder involvement from the outset is the key to such programs, as is equitable co-funding, transparency and environmentally sound processes.”
Infasecure Director Matthew Horsfall said, “SeatCare is a great initiative and they have the full support of the team at Infasecure. We have been following on with keen interest from the early stages of this program and will continue to support 100% into the future.”
Britax Childcare Managing Director Dirk Voller added, “We look forward, together with Kidsafe, Equilibrium, Baby Bunting and the two other major child car safety seat brands, to work towards further advancing a voluntary and sustainable SeatCare program.”
The program is planned to commence in 2021 and, if successful, will be rolled out nationally over two to three years.
*Organisations working together on this national initiative include Baby Bunting, Infasecure, Dorel, Britax, Kidsafe, NRMA, RAA and Equilibrium.
Image courtesy of Equilibrium