How to Dispose of Car Seats

You might choose to get rid of a car seat for many reasons. You might have a child that might have outgrown it, and you might need another one to adequately protect the child.

You may also need to upgrade or replace a car seat if it’s expired, has been recalled, is damaged, or has been in a crash. Or, perhaps you simply don’t like your current car seat.

Whatever the reason might be, when a car seat reaches the end of its useful life, it’s important to make sure it’s disposed of responsibly.

How Can I Properly Dispose of Old Car Seats?

donate old car seat

Following proper car seat disposal procedures is crucial to protect the environment and your neighborhood.

To learn how to do it, keep reading our article on how to correctly dispose of a car seat.

1. Trade-In Events

Some big-box stores usually hold car seat trade-in events throughout the year. One of the popular stores that do this is Target.

These trade-in events allow you to bring in an old or unusable car seat and get a coupon in return. When you trade in your old car seat, stroller, or other baby gear, Target will give you 20% off a new one.

All old car seats traded at Target are recycled and turned into different products like pallets, buckets, and construction materials.

Trade-in events are definitely the most convenient option and most recommended. Not only do you get to get rid of your old car seat, but you get a good deal on an upgrade as well.

Most locations are extremely selective when it comes to used car seats, even if they are still in perfect shape.

However, certain organizations may continue to accept them. Inform them regarding the car’s condition, so they know what to expect.

These programs only run periodically for a limited time each year, so check the store’s website or call your local outpost to find out when their next trade-in event is happening.

2. Take Used Car Seat to a Recycling Facility

There are numerous programs in the United States responsible for recycling car seats so as to minimize waste. Check online for the ones closest to you. 

You can also try to recycle the car seat at your local recycling center. Most recycling centers won’t recycle whole car seats, but they will usually recycle most of the components.

Call your local recycling center and ask them if your model of car seat is recyclable. If it is, follow the recycling center’s instructions and break down the car seat into separate components so the center can recycle it.

If the recycling center cannot recycle all of the car seat’s components, throw the rest away.

If you are not able to break down the car seat by yourself, someone at the recycling center might be able to help you with the process.

3. Donate It or Sell It

You may donate or sell a used seat only if you can attest to its quality. The seat should be in almost new condition. The next owners should be able to talk with you, ideally in person, about the seat’s history.

Most places are really picky about used car seats, even if they’re still in excellent condition. However, you may still find that some organizations accept them. Be upfront about the condition of the seat, so they know what they’re receiving. You don’t want to compromise anyone’s safety.

There are a lot of organizations to consider. There are many organizations that provide resources to families in need. Often, foster families are short on necessities like car seats.

Church organizations are also another option because they are always looking to help. Some may have ministries where they give away car seats to needy families. This is another good option to consider, especially if you’re religious.

You can also list the seat on Craigslist and other platforms you can sell stuff for free. If you can’t find anyone you know who needs your car seat, and your local shelters or donation centers won’t accept it as a donation, try selling it on Craigslist.

Make sure to specify that your car seat has not been in an accident and has not yet expired. Otherwise, people may not be interested in buying it.

If no one purchases your car seat from Craigslist, you can try posting it on Craigslist’s free listings page.

4. Destroy and Trash the Seat

If the seat can’t be recycled, donated, or traded in for some reason, it can be thrown away with the trash. As a last resort, make the car seat unusable and throw it in the trash.

You should avoid throwing your car seat in the trash unless you absolutely have to.

If you’re going to throw the seat away, you want to first ruin it so that no one else tries to re-use it—which could be fatally dangerous.

To ruin the unusable car seat, try damaging and breaking it with any tools that you have. Power tools work best if you feel comfortable safely operating them.

As with recycling, there are specific criteria for safely discarding a car seat in the trash:

  • Get rid of all the filling or foam.
  • Remove all belts, handles, and straps.
  • Take away the plastic and metal pieces.
  • You should clearly mark it as “UNSAFE” or “EXPIRED” on the bare plastic seat so nobody will be tempted to reuse it.
  • Properly seal the trashbag using sturdy tape, so it does not tear.

You can also contact your local garbage removal service and ask them for specific guidelines for disposing of bulky items like a car seat.


Car Seats to be Recycled

Can Car Seats Be Recycled?

Car seats are difficult to recycle, and you will hardly see a recycling station willing to accept them for recycling. The reason for this is the nature of a car seat.

Car seats are made up of about 92% recyclable materials by weight, but unfortunately, they are ineligible for usual recycling. They’re too big and require a large amount of disassembly before they are recycled—so they end up in a landfill.

If, however, you feel a pressing need to recycle your car seats, you might have to take up the duty of separating the different materials yourself. Then, you have to send the separated materials for recycling. Without these or the recycling company’s willingness to take up separating the materials of the car seats, there might be no possibility of recycling car seats.

When Should Car Seats Be Disposed of?

The disposal time of car seats is determined by the estimated life of various components and the seat’s structure. The expiry date also depends on how old your car seat’s model is.

Sometimes, you might just want to get rid of your old car seat so that you can upgrade to a newer one.

The typical car seat age is 6 to 8 years, depending on the manufacturer and model. You can find out the age of your car seat by inspecting the labels on the seat or referring back to the owner’s manual for the exact date of purchase.

You might also want to dispose of a car seat if it was involved in an accident and is not in usable condition or if your child has outgrown it.

What Do You Do With Old Car Seats?

When a car seat approaches the end of its useful life, it is critical to dispose of it properly. As car seats are made of hard and rigid plastic, throwing them off in the trash is harmful to the environment.

You should not dump your old car seat in a dumpster or leave it out on the road, especially if it is not entirely damaged. If your car seat has worn out or the fabric is not up to par anymore, throwing the entire seat in the trash is still wasteful.

You can still repair it and give it to someone who could make good use of a damaged or broken car seat. There is also a chance that if you just throw away your old car seat without any warning labels, chances are someone might pick it up, not knowing it could be a serious health hazard.

Therefore, to save the environment and your community, practicing the safe disposal of car seats is essential.

Bottom Line

Car seats are in great use in today’s world. This has indirectly raised the potential of them hurting the environment. But, like always, there is a way out. Whether you recycle or sell your old car seat, it’s not hard to get rid of it. Just make sure that neither you nor anyone else uses the car seat after it has expired or been in a crash, and you can rest assured that you are disposing of your old car seat in the safest and most responsible way.

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