SeatSmart programme manager Toni Bye.

The road trip is a Kiwi tradition over the holidays, so now is a good time to check the safety of the seat your most precious cargo travels in.

The manager of the country’s only child car seat recycling programme, SeatSmart, is urging parents and caregivers to check their children’s seats aren’t expired or damaged before heading off for the holidays.

“Many people don’t know that child car seats have expiry dates,” says SeatSmart programme manager Toni Bye. “On average a seat will have an expiry date of six to 10 years.”

Plunket Regional Injury Prevention Manager Simone Budel says there are a variety of reason for an expiry date on seats. “Frequent use and exposure to sunlight can damage and weaken plastic.

“Food, drinks, cleaners and spilled items may stop the webbing, buckles, adjusters and other parts from working safely, and safety standards may have changed so safer products may be on the market – safety technology is always improving,” she says.

“It’s also good to check for damage such as frayed straps, and weight and height restrictions especially if your children have recently had a growth spurt,” Simone says.

“For support contact your local Plunket Car seat installation sites. Visit the Plunket website and click on the ‘Plunket near you’ tab to find local support sites.”  Caregivers can also check the NZTA website for a list of local car seat technicians.

SeatSmart was created by resource recovery experts 3R Group as a way of tackling the issue of an estimated 100,000 child car seats going to landfill every year in New Zealand. This despite around 70% of the seat material (by weight) being recyclable.

“We are able to recycle most of the plastic and metal, while the straps are used to make bags,” Toni says.

Recycling the seats not only prevents valuable material going to landfill but has a great social outcome, she says. This is because a good portion of the seats are dismantled by social enterprises which employ people who have a disability or are disadvantaged or marginalised.

SeatSmart has 37 collection sites in 9 regions around the country. “There is a fee to recycle, but in many areas local councils have subsidies in place to help reduce the cost so check our website to see what applies in your area,” Toni says.