How to recycle your expired child car seats

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX – You might now know it, but child car seats expire within six years of when they were manufactured. That’s why experts say parents should never buy a used car seat.

“I always compare it to the milk in your fridge that tells us not to use it after a specific date,” explained Erin Kuroiwa a child-seat expert with Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “Just like that, what we see on car seats are dates that are meant to be the expiration date. They’ll say ‘Do not use this seat after.’”

Kuroiwa said that date will either be embossed on the seat or on a sticker that’s part of the labeling.

Not only does technology change, but the materials that make up car seats can break down over time, especially in Arizona’s extreme summer heat.  After six years, manufactures cannot guarantee that their car seats will do what they’re intended to do – protect your child. In addition, a car seat that has been involved in even a moderate wreck can be damaged enough to render it unsafe.

"Car seats do a great job protecting children, but at the end of the seat's life they contain many materials that could be recycled," said Angelica M. Baker, a child safety passenger specialist at Phoenix Children's Hospital, in a news release.

For the second Earth Day in a row, Phoenix Children’s Hospital is hosting a unique recycling event in which more than 100 volunteers will dismantle hundreds of expired car seats. All of the metal and plastic parts will be recycled and a local dog shelter will use the fabric to make dog beds.

“We’re celebrating Earth Day in a lovely way today,” Kuroiwa said. “We know that these [old] seats are out there. Typically what we see is seats that are reused and passed down, bought at garage sales.”

“Garage sales and trash cans are not the answer to unwanted, old car seats – de-manufacturing and recycling is,” Baker said. “This is the proper way to dispose of car seats. It’s important not to throw car seats in the dump. We have seen many cases where people will pull old car seats out of dumpsters or trash cans and use them.”

The Keep Our Planet Neat, Recycle Your Car Seat Demolition event is Friday, 8 a.m.-noon, in the north parking lot of Tempe Marketplace.