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Keeping Child Car Safety Seats Out of Landfill

Written by John Gertsakis on 12 November 2020

A program to recover and recycle old, unwanted and potentially unsafe child car safety seats will take a major step forward with a grant from the Australian Government through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund (NPSIF).

The grant will enable the development of SeatCare, a program that aims to help the public safely dispose of used child car safety seats for recycling. It is planned that SeatCare will commence in 2021 and if successful the program will be rolled out nationally over two to three years.

Equilibrium, in collaboration with a group of manufacturers, retailers and child safety and automotive organisations, is designing the program that aims to improve road safety while also reducing waste to landfill and costs to the community through illegal dumping of child car safety seats.

Organisations working together on this national initiative include: Baby Bunting, Infasecure, Dorel, Britax, Kidsafe, NRMA, RAA and Equilibrium.

SeatCare aims to provide a unique community service consistent with the targets and priorities in the Australian Government’s National Waste Policy Action Plan.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, said that we are shifting the dial in Australia as we change our mindset to thinking about waste as a resource and move towards a more circular economy.

“This new product stewardship scheme for old, unwanted or obsolete child car safety seats will reduce waste going to landfill, lift recycling rates and help consumers make a practical, positive difference for the environment”.

Child car safety seats have a limited life-span and their integrity can be compromised by factors such as accidents, time/age, temperature and sunlight and general wear and tear from use and moving them in and out of vehicles numerous times.

At present, 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.

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.

SeatCare aims to provide parents and carers with a free and environmentally-friendly option for disposing of their old child car restraints. By collecting and disassembling the seats on-site, the program aims to divert in excess of 900 tonnes of waste away from landfill and back into the recycling stream.

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
> 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.

The full Equilibrium media release can be downloaded here

The Ministers’ media release can be viewed here

The list of successful recipients and projects under the NPSIF can be viewed here

For media comment or further information about the SeatCare program, contact Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961 

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