South Waikato District Council Marketing and Communications Manager Kerry Fabrie with one of the first seats to be recycled at the Tokoroa Transfer Station

South Waikato residents can now recycle their expired, damaged, or unwanted child car seats at the Tokoroa Transfer Station for free.

This comes after the South Waikato District Council partnered with child car seat recycling programme SeatSmart. The transfer station is now the 46th SeatSmart collection site in the country.

Council Marketing and Communications Manager Kerry Fabrie says the cost is funded through the Government’s Waste Levy Scheme. “We know there are people in the district who cannot afford to dispose of their car seats, and this is why we’re using some of the funding Council gets back from the Waste Levy to cover the cost,” she says.

The council is now one of four in New Zealand to fully cover the cost of recycling child car seats. The subsidy will be available until 30 June 2024.

The SeatSmart programme, created and managed by circular economy experts 3R Group, has been running since 2016 with collection sites around Aotearoa. It aims to tackle the issue of around 100,000 child car seats going to landfill each year, with recovered materials becoming a resource instead of going to landfill.

The programme also works to make parents and caregivers aware that all child car seats have expiry dates.

“We are proud to be partnering with 3R Group on this project. Initiatives by companies such as 3R will both raise awareness of expired car seats and ensure that these seats are repurposed to make new items,” Kerry says.

3R Group Marketing Manager – Programmes Kiri Spiers says it’s great to have another council come on board with a full subsidy. “For families weighing up costs, being more sustainable can sometimes come second, but this subsidy removes the cost barrier for keeping expired or damaged child car seats out of landfill.”

Once collected, the seats are dismantled by SeatSmart so the plastic, metal and straps can be recycled or repurposed. “Around 70% (by weight) of the material in an average seat is recyclable or reusable,” Kiri says.