Tania Ashman of Go Eco Waikato Environment Centre with one of the seats taken in to be recycled.

Child car seat recycling in Hamilton has become more affordable thanks to a Council grant.

The SeatSmart child car seat recycling programme, which has been running in the city since 2015, aims to tackle the issue of some 100,000 child car seats going to landfill each year, as well as raise awareness around expiry dates on seats.

The Hamilton City Council grant kicked in at the start of March, reducing the cost of recycling to $10 (RRP) per seat for up to 300 seats, making the programme more accessible to Hamiltonians. This follows a similar subsidy in 2019.

Hamilton City Council Rubbish and Recycling Compliance Officer Jordyn Stuart says the funding is part of the Waste Minimisation Fund 2020. “We continued funding the subsidy as (SeatSmart programme managers) 3R Group has a great track record of delivering successful product stewardship initiatives and this is a good example of an initiative from both a waste reduction and community education/engagement perspective.

“SeatSmart increases awareness around seat safety and expiry dates, has measurable outcomes and diverts waste from landfill.”

SeatSmart Programme Manager Toni Bye says the council’s ongoing support is very welcome. “We aim to have a positive impact on the environment and society, and support from councils is an important part of enabling residents to make positive choices about their waste,” she says.

The programme has 39 sites around the country with two in Hamilton – at Baby on the Move Hamilton and the Go Eco Waikato Environment Centre.
“Collected seats are dismantled by social enterprises, providing work for people who might otherwise struggle to find employment, whether that be through a lack of opportunity, disability, or being disadvantaged or marginalised,” Toni says.

Metal and the majority of plastics from the dismantled seats are recycled, while straps are repurposed for handmade bags, like those from The Green Collective in Nelson. Toni says it’s exciting to see seat straps provide employment and business opportunities for those wanting to create new products out of previously unwanted materials.

SeatSmart has had a collection site at Baby on the Move in Hamilton since 2015 when it was part of the programme’s project phase, with Go Eco coming on board in 2019. The programme hopes to find an additional collection site in the north of the city.