Media Release
30 March 2017

A unique recycling service for child car restraints launches in the Wellington region next week with the aim of protecting our environment and our kids.

A minimum of 40,000 child car restraints reach their ‘use by’ date each year in New Zealand. Most end up in a landfill, despite around 90 per cent of a typical seat being recyclable. Now Wellingtonians and Hutt Valley residents will get the chance to recycle their unwanted seats.

“Many people aren’t aware that children’s car seats have a limited life span of six to ten years,” says Toni Bye, SeatSmart programme manager. “For a variety of reasons the materials can degrade and weaken over time, which may affect how they would perform in an accident.

“People generally send their old seats to the landfill, which is a waste of resources, or give them away which could unnecessarily put a child at risk. With SeatSmart, expired or damaged seats can be safely taken out of circulation and the materials recycled or repurposed for a small fee of $10 per seat to cover costs.”

Thanks to funding from Wellington City Council, Hutt City Council and Upper Hutt City Council, SeatSmart will start with four collection sites in the region, with plans to open more drop off points shortly, including Upper Hutt.

“Baby on the Move stores have been fantastic supporters of SeatSmart right from the beginning,” says Mrs Bye. “From 5th April, their stores in Ngaio, Lyall Bay and Petone will start accepting seats, alongside Sustainability Trust in the central city.”

Sustainability Trust retail manager, Rena Kohere, says they are really excited about being a part of this initiative.

SeatSmart launch date set for Wellington region

Sustainability Trust retail manager Rena Kohere: “We’re really excited about being a part of this initiative and are so pleased they’ve come to Wellington.”

“A lot of families reduce their impact on the environment by not buying certain things, or buying eco-friendly alternatives – with car seats, it’s not so simple. We have to keep our kids safe. There are also limited opportunities to pass car seats on to other families when you’re finished because of the expiry dates. So dismantling the car seats for recycling or repurposing is the best thing to do.”

The plastic from the seats is recycled into new products used in the building industry and metal parts are also easily recycled. Straps from the seats are used by Karkt Bags, Auckland, and The Green Collective, Nelson, to make recycled bags.

Hastings-based recycling specialists, 3R Group, created SeatSmart.

“We like to think that landfill should be the last option, not the default,” says Mrs Bye.

“So often, products that are put in the ‘too hard basket’ and simply dumped, are highly recyclable. Mattresses, tyres, paint, chemical containers, contaminated plastics; these are just some of the products that we tackle.”

So far, SeatSmart has been introduced in six centres: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Hastings, Nelson and Christchurch. In the short time it has been operating more than 4,000 seats have been recycled.

Along with reducing waste to landfill, the programme also aims to improve awareness of car seat expiry dates.

“Some people continue to use restraints after expiry because of a lack of understanding that exposure to sunlight, changes in temperature, and stress caused by accidents, can damage and weaken plastic,” said Mrs Bye.

“Giving people the choice of a positive disposal option for their seats should improve outcomes for both the environment and children on our roads.”

SeatSmart is supported in Wellington by Hutt City Council, Upper Hutt City Council, Wellington City Council, The Sustainability Trust and Baby on the Move stores.

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