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LGA - Child car seats need to be recycled by manufacturers to stop landfill scandal
Manufacturers need to recycle their own child car seats and offer take-back services to help stop nearly all of them being “scandalously” landfilled, the Local Government Association hs said.
More than 250,000 child car seats reach their “safety expiry date” in the UK every year, with 90 per cent of them ending up in landfill - the equivalent of up to 2,000 tonnes of mostly recyclable material.
Child car seats are generally too hard and laborious to routinely dismantle due to their mix of materials and complex structures. This means the vast majority of an estimated 2.1 million child car seats sold in the UK every year face being landfilled unless a viable solution is found to recycle them.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, is calling on manufacturers to recycle their own child car seats, and alongside retailers, offer take-back services so parents can return them instead of throwing them away.
It is also urging retailers to offer trade-in incentives, as they do in other countries, for parents looking to buy a new seat to meet child-related age and height laws.
For safety reasons, used child car seats are not accepted or sold at councils’ recycling centre re-use shops. This is because a car seat’s history is generally unknown, meaning it could have been damaged in an accident which has compromised its safety, even if there is no visible external damage.
The seats also have a typical usable lifespan of between six and 10 years, depending on the manufacturer’s advice, due to the plastic elements becoming weak and brittle as the seats age.
LGA Environment spokesman, Cllr David Renard, said:
“Councils are reducing waste sent to landfill and want to increase recycling rates but child car seats are too hard to recycle and can’t be accepted by re-use shops at local authority waste sites for safety reasons.
“Having to treat child car seats as waste is scandalous and is extremely frustrating for councils and parents who want to dispose of these seats responsibly.
“To help reduce the impact on the environment and help parents do the right thing, manufacturers need to set up their own recycling schemes for child car seats.
“Retailers and manufacturers should also follow the lead of other countries in helping parents avoid waste by offering take-back services, where old car seats are recycled into new products as part of a circular economy.
“Child car seats are likely to be around for a very long time and we want to work with the Government and manufacturers to achieve a viable, long-term solution to recycling them.”
- Car seats are hard to recycle because they are made of a mixture of materials – rigid plastic, metal and fabric – strongly bonded together to withstand high impacts.
- Councils with energy recovery facilities are able to safely incinerate car seats to turn waste into usable heat or electricity, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, while workers at council-run waste and recycling centres salvage the recyclable components from the seats, where possible.
- The average weight of an infant car seat and carrier is 10-20lbs. 90 per cent of 250,000 car seats is 225,000, so between 1,020 and 2,041 tonnes of child car seats are sent to landfill in the UK every year.
- An estimated 2.1 million child car seats are sold in the UK every year, according to jmda Global Product Design.
- American retailer Target collected 176,000 child car seats which were recycled into new products after holding five trade-in recycling events across its stores where customers were given a voucher for 20 per cent off new car seat products, travel systems or strollers. Walmart also runs a similar scheme.
- The law requires children to use a car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first, meaning UK families could use at least two or three different-sized seats.
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