Ashburton District Council Waste Recovery Manager Craig Goodwin with one of the seats brought to the Ashburton Resource Recovery Park to be recycled through the SeatSmart programme.

Ashburton residents can now recycle their expired, damaged or unwanted child car seats, for free, through the SeatSmart programme, with collection sites in Ashburton, Rakaia and Methven.

This comes after the Ashburton District Council partnered with the national child car seat recycling programme to offer the service. Ashburton is the only district where it is free to recycle a seat, thanks to support from the council.

Service Delivery Group Manager Neil McCann says the initiative supports the council’s goal of reducing waste ending up in landfill, which is a great outcome for the community.

“We are proud to be partnering with the SeatSmart programme to provide this free service. A variety of common household goods are already accepted free of charge for recycling at our Resource Recovery Parks and drop-off sites, and we are pleased to expand this list to include child car seats. It gives residents even more opportunity to reduce their waste and engage with more sustainable solutions.”

Seats can be dropped off at the Methven recycling yard (cnr of Methven Chertsey Road and Line Road), Rakaia Resource Recovery Park (West Town Belt), and Ashburton Resource Recovery Park.

SeatSmart was created by Hastings-based recycling specialist 3R Group and has seen strong growth since launching in April 2016. The three new sites in the Ashburton District bring the number of collection sites in the South Island to 20, and the total number nationwide to 37.

Programme manager Toni Bye says she’s pleased to be able to bridge the gap between SeatSmart collection sites in Christchurch and Geraldine, increasing access to the programme. “We’re delighted to have the council’s backing for a programme that not only diverts waste from landfill but also raises awareness of expiry dates on car seats,” she says.

Seats collected by the programme are dismantled by offenders in Department of Correction community work programmes as well as by social enterprises which employ people who have a disability or are disadvantaged or marginalised, Toni says. “This means recycling a seat not only recovers useful resources that would otherwise go to landfill but also provides meaningful work – it’s a real win-win all round.”

Up to 70% of a seat’s material (by weight) is recyclable. “Key materials such as plastic, metal and harnesses can be recycled or reused. The harnesses, for example, are made into bags, while the metal is easily recycled,” Toni says.

SeatSmart also promotes road safety by encouraging parents and care-givers to check seats for expiry dates. “People don’t always know that child car seats have expiry dates. The extremes of temperature in cars, stress on plastic parts, all takes a toll on seats. It’s therefore important to know when seats are due to expire and get them out of circulation, ideally by recycling them,” Toni says