This is a tricky topic. As a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) I have some strong feelings on this. Child safety seats are expensive but absolutely necessary. Due to these factors, many parents and parents-to-be think that hand-me-downs are the way to go. Unfortunately, they couldn't be more wrong in this case. Car seats have an expiration date, just like bike helmets. The material used lasts 6 years and then it is no longer safe. If the seat is in any type of collision including a fender bender, the seat should be replaced. After a collision, there are potentially cracks in the material that can't be seen. This causes weaknesses that, in the event of another collision, could allow injuries to the child. If someone picks up a seat at a garage sale or a consignment shop, there is NO way to know the history of the seat. Scary! The only time a used car seat is considered safe as a "second" is if you bought it new for your own child, the seat was in no accidents, is within its expiration date, and is used for a subsequent child in your immediate family. You must know the history of the seat.
Enough with my soapbox! The whole reason for this post is that there is a way to recycle these seats. Previously, there wasn't much that could be done with them other than to pitch them in the garbage. It seems like such a waste. And I don't even know how long it takes to break down! At car seat check events we would destroy the outdated seats by cutting up all the strapping and then throwing it all away. (Don't worry, people were given new seats!) Now, there is a better way. Here in our area, there is a car repair shop (Offut Collision Repair) that is taking them! Yay!
This is what their flyer says...
"OCR Child Safety Seat Recycling Program
Each year thousands of child safety seats are sent to the landfill, because there has traditionally been no alternative. In an effort to keep child safety seats out of the landfill, OCR has started a
child safety seat recycling program.
OCR is now accepting child safety seats that have expired, seats that have been in car accidents and seats that are no longer being used. All of this is at no cost to the owner. After being disassembled, the car seat materials are then sent to be destroyed and recycled.
OCR would like to encourage parents to be aware of the expiration date on seats and the history of the seats. Child safety seats that have been used in accidents should be destroyed.
Used child safety seats can be dropped off at OCR Monday – Friday from 7:30am until 5:00pm."
So cool. So check around in your area. See if there is a place to recycle your car seats. And by all means, if you bought it new, if they are within the expiration date and haven't been in an accident use them for your second and third babies! Just keep tabs on those dates!