It’s good news for Hamilton caregivers wanting to recycle their expired child car seats with the announcement of continued funding for child car seat recycling programme SeatSmart.

The funding, from the council’s Waste Minimisation Fund, means the SeatSmart programme can continue to offer a reduced fee for anyone wanting to recycle an expired or damaged seat, says Programme Manager Toni Bye.

This is the third year the programme has been awarded funding, with $3,900 going directly to reduce the recycling fee by $15 per seat. “We’re thrilled the council has decided to support SeatSmart again because this will make it easier for parents and caregivers to recycle their expired child car seats, particularly when household budgets are tight,” she says.

Hamilton City Council Waste Minimisation Advisor Belinda Goodwin says the programme is, “a great example of the type of initiative we’re keen to support; reducing waste, educating the community and encouraging people to do things differently.”

SeatSmart has two collection sites in Hamilton – at Baby on the Move on Rostrevor Street and Go Eco Environment Centre in Frankton. Plus, they are keen to find a third site in the north of the city, Toni says.

She says support from councils like Hamilton are really important at this stage of the programme’s development to make recycling more accessible, but they hope to do away with this need over time.

“One of our key aims is to encourage the companies that import and sell child car seats to make recycling free when seats expire by incorporating a small fee into the sale price of every seat,” Toni says. “It’s not a new concept – anyone buying Resene paint may have noticed a small fee on their receipt for the PaintWise programme. This means returning unwanted or old Resene paint and pails is free. It’s a concept called product stewardship and that’s where we want to get to with SeatSmart.”

The programme has recycled nearly 25,000 seats since it started, 5,000 of those in the 2021-2022 financial year.

“Child car seats contain metal and plastic, which can be recycled, and the straps get reused to make bags,” Toni says. “In fact, up to 75% of a seat’s material, by weight, is recyclable.”

SeatSmart aims to tackle the issue of some 100,000 expired seats going to landfill each year in New Zealand, as well as promote road safety through raising awareness of expiry dates on car seats.

It has 42 collection sites in nine regions around New Zealand, with a number of councils providing support to lower the cost of recycling a seat.