Please Note! BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and has moved to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
Recycling the Old Carseat
Berkeley Parents Network >
What/Where to Buy >
Car Seats >
Recycling the Old Carseat
Ecological nightmare of expired car seats
Have we truly not found some way (even in Berkeley) to avoid trashing expired or
expiring child car seats and booster seats? We have one no longer used that
will be expiring in Dec 2014. I went online and found some agency in Austin, TX
called BabyEarthRENEW (www.BabyEarth.com), which will take apart various forms
of baby gear, including car seats, and send all usable parts to accredited
recycling centers and for use in construction projects. I am wrestling with
whether I can allocate the time and expense to mail it to Austin in order to
avoid throwing it in the local garbage.
Anyone out there equally garbage-averse, who has any idea how we might start
something like that here? Or knows anywhere around here that will take these
items and put the components to some recycled use?
EXPIRED Car-seats? From an engineering and material science perspective I can
tell you that most materials used to make child car-seats will remain on the
earth long after you and I have left. The only significant degradable material
is the padding and cloth which poses a comfort issue. The belts, straps,
plastic body, and buckles will most likely withstand generations of use.
Car-seat manufacturers like the idea of selling you something with planned
obsolescence so you can just buy a new one in 5 years to replace the perfectly
safe and functional one you already have. The answer to your dilemma is simple.
Place the car seat on a corner in an area where families can't afford to spend
$100-$500 on a car-seat. Within a short time your car-seat or drop side crib
will be whisked away to provide for the safety of a child that would otherwise
If a car seat has not been in an accident, or exposed to extreme environmental
conditions, it doesn't just become ''expired'' all of a sudden. I personally
think the whole thing is a scam - the best way to avoid putting a perfectly
usable car seat into a landfill is to pass it along to someone in need. Family
shelters, Freecycle, Craigslist Free, etc. are the best way to ''recycle''
items like this, in my opinion. I haven't heard of any local facilities that
actually reuse/recycle retired/broken car seat components.
not a believer in car seat expiration
It's really a shame that Detroit can't convince people that their CARS will
expire, too. Then we would be forced to buy brand-new cars every five years and
we could save the automotive industry.
I am quite sure you can give your car seat away without fear that you will be
harming anyone who uses it. If it is safe in November 2014 it will not be
dangerous in January 2015.
You can now drop off expired car seats or car seats that have been in an
accident at the El Cerrito Recycling Center
http://ca-elcerrito.civicplus.com/index.aspx?nid=533 and the Berkeley
Recycling Center http://berkeleyrecycling.org/index.php (click on Plastics).
Look for the bins for Rigid Plastics. This is also a place you could drop
other large plastic items that are no longer reusable.
Do be sure to take off the cover and buckles. Consider posting these for free
on BPN, Craigslist, or FreeCycle with the specific make and model as many
parents would love to have a back up set when the cover is soiled (read: barfed
on, etc.). Before stripping the car seat, consider snapping a photo to post
with the offer.
Recycling old car seat
We have an old car seat that is past its expiration date and so we can't give it away
to someone. There aren't any current posts about recycling options for car seats in
the bay area. I know I need to cut the straps and the fabric to prevent someone from
trying to use it but I'd like to know if there is any way to avoid sending it to the
land fill. Any current information would be appreciated.
I had the same question about a month ago regarding our expired car seats. I called the El
Cerrito Recycling Center and was told to cut off all straps and fabric covers (these went into a
landfill) and to bring the plastic base to the recycling center. There is a large bin marked
''Hard Plastic'' or something similar to that. Here's the center's website:
Honestly, I see the ''expiration dating'' on car seats as a suggestion (and mostly manufacturer
fearmongering). Unless the seat has been in an accident, or is brittle from years of exposure
to the elements, it's most likely perfectly usable for a family in need. I freecycled my son's
old car seat last year (it was a year or so beyond the ''expiration date'' and I disclosed it as
such) and a low income family with a toddler was thrilled to have it. If you're not comfortable
with passing it to another family, really your only other option is to junk it.
expiration dates are for food and medicine
I'm sure others will tell you the same. Offer it for free on BPN Marketplace to be used for the
carseat trade-in event at ToysRUs that happens twice a year . Someone will take it. Toys R Us
will give you 25% off on any new carseat/crib/swing/stroller when you bring in an old one
(expired or not). They'll recycle it. I think the next one is in January.
We were recently involved in a very minor car accident. Our kids were in the
back seat in booster seats and didn't even notice that someone hit us. Nobody was hurt but
our car needs a little paint job.
My question is - do we need to replace the boosters? Obviously, nothing
happened to the seats but are they still a safety risk? Do we need to replace
them in order to be covered by our insurance in case we'll have another
accident in the future? Kids don't want to have new seats - they like their old
ones (but being safe is more important). Our insurance covers new ones, I'm
just wondering if we need them. Seems a little wasteful to send 2 seemingly
perfect seats to landfill.
to toss or not to toss?
Destroy it. there is an easy way...you can google it. Our
insurance company paid for the replacement when we had a
it's really not worth salvaging something that might not
From what I understand, booster seats don't need to be replaced in the same
way car seats do after an accident. Booster seats just raise your kids up so
can use the seat belt. They don't have their own restraint system like car seats
do. Hope this helps!
I think I was more rough on the booster seat just getting it in and
out of the car than the fender bender you describe. I cannot imagine
there is anything wrong with it. IMO this is all dreamed up by
the manufacturers to increase their sales.
I'm looking forward to the responses on this one. We are in
the same situation--minor accident (my son even slept
through it), superficial damage only. Insurance said that
the law requires them to pay us for new car seats, so we
were forced to buy them.
I'm not sure what to do with the old ones, though it seems
clear by the paperwork that we did that we have to get them
out of this car. If there were another accident in it, the
insurance company would be able to use them to get out of
paying out, right? On the other hand, we bought the same car
seats--color and all--so how on earth would they know?
This is just one of those cases where the letter of the law
gets in the way of common sense, and forces waste upon us.
However, if it saves someone else the hassle of having to
fight their insurance company for a necessary seat
replacement, I guess it is worth it.
For all of us who've wondered if we really need to replace the car seat after a
minor accident, here's the policy regarding that from the National Highway
Safety Administration. Forget the insurance company's advice: if you can check
off all 5 criteria, you don't need to replace it. Go ahead & get a new one if they'll
pay for it, & then you'll have an extra seat, which is handy.
Just a reminder to buyers and sellers of used car seats to make sure
you are aware of their expiration dates. They vary among
manufacturers, but you can usually find the information in the user
manual online. The expiration has to do with the integrity of aging
plastic parts, not how well you care for or how heavily you use the
seat. More info here http://www0.epinions.com/content_4753956996. Be
Car seats have expiration dates - check the tag. If it's past
the expiration date, you'll have to just get rid of it. If you
can't find an expiration date, then use 6 years after the manufacture
date as the expiration date. The reason is that carseats are made of plastic, and
plastic breaks down, becomes more brittle,
and cracks over time. You may not be able to see this.
For more information
about this, see Do Car
Seats Expire? at About.com.
The following pages are on the website for the California Dept. of
Motor Vehicles (DMV) and contain information about re-selling
a car seat.
"Child Passenger Restraint System: Prohibition Against Resale After Accident"
Carseats that have been in an accident may not be re-sold.
Liability insurance must cover replacement of carseats involved in an accident.
Carseats that were involved in an accident may be taken to the California
I have several used carseats that I no longer need. Goodwill does
not take them, probably because of potential liability issues.
Are there organizations or people who might need them, or must I
throw them away at the landfill? Thanks --
Child's Play on College Ave and Chabot in Rockridge buys and
sells used car seats (as well as kids clothes, toys, other
equipment). Call them first. They have limited buying hours.
BANANAS on Claremont near Telegraph takes donations of kids
clothes and toys. I bet they'd take donations of equipment.
We have a nice Britax carseat that was in our car when we had a minor fender-
bender. Because we were not at fault in the accident, the insurance company
has agreed to replace it... I am wondering what the best thing to do with the
old carseat would be, I hate to create landfill and just dump it in the trash but I
would feel bad if another child in another car was not properly restrained by it
in an accident.
looking for a ''third way''
We were recently in a very minor fender bender in a parking lot
where both cars were going less than 5 miles per hour. We
replaced the convertable seat, but not the booster and got
reimbursed by the insurance agency. Our rationale was that the
possibility that the booster was cracked seemd to have no effect
on the safety as the point of the booster is only to raise the
child up so they seat belt can fit correctly.
Since then I have received information that suggests that the
seats were safe. According to SafetyBestSafe U.S.A., the
National Highway Safey Administration recently reversed its
recommendation to discontinue use of safety seats involved in a
crash. IF the safety seat and the door next to it were not
visably damaged, the air bag was not deployed, no one was
injured, and the car could be driven, the safety seat need not be
If you have already purchased new seats, I would recommend you
For more information you can call (800)745-SAFE, (310)222-6860,
or (800) 747-SANO (spanish) or look at www.carseat.org. They
also do great car seat checkups and are very helpful with general
car seat information.
Our babysitter was in a minor accident recently with our 3 year
old. There were no injuries to any occupants of the cars, and
she was able to drive her car away from the scene. Her
insurance company said they'd replace our car seat, but they
needed the carseat first, so they could destroy it so no one
would use a seat that had been in an accident. Your insurance
company may have the same policy, and that may be the end of
As our son is about to graduate to a booster seat, I checked
the NHTSA website to see what the standards currently are, as
the seat seemed fine. The new government guidelines say that
if the seat is not cracked or bent, and if the accident was
minor enought that there were no injuries to any passengers,
the car could be driven away from the accident, and no airbags
deployed, then it's OK to keep the seat. Many people may feel
that they should still get a new seat, especially when they are
offered a new one by thier insurance company, but I thought you
may be interested in this info. Glad to hear your accident was
Carseat in a fender bender
I was recently in a fender bender too. I was told at the accident that
Patrol has a program where they exchange a voucher for the accident
car seat. The
insurance pays you for the replacement with the voucher, and the CHP
disposes of the car seat.
But my accident wasn't bad. So I went to the National Highway Traffic
Website and they have a page about carseats in an acccident: http://
actually have a checklist to determine if your car seat needs to be
replaced or not,
and the testing they have done to determine this list.
Hope all are well and safe.
this page was last updated: Jun 10, 2014
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network