Central Otago District Council Environmental Engineering Manager Quinton Penniall.

Damaged or expired child car seats don’t need to go to the tip in Central Otago now the SeatSmart programme has launched in the district.

The Central Otago District Council has also come on board by offering a subsidy to encourage residents to make the most of this recycling programme and reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.

SeatSmart Programme Manager Toni Bye says child car seats contain a large amount of recyclable material, such as metal and plastic. Around 70% of seat materials by weight can be reused or recycled, she says. Plus, providing a recycling option helps keep expired or damaged seats out of circulation.

“It’s a real waste to send these materials to landfill especially when you consider some 100,000 car seats reach their expiry date each year.  That’s a lot of lost resources.”

Central Otago District Council Environmental Engineering Manager Quinton Penniall says Council is pleased to expand its transfer station offerings in Cromwell and Alexandra to include a recycling option for child car seats.

“Council is committed to working collaboratively with others on waste minimisation initiatives to reduce what is being sent to landfill.”

Residents can now take their seats to the Alexandra Transfer Station or the Cromwell Transfer Station, with a recycling fee of $10 ($15 subsidised by Council).

Some of the collected seats are dismantled by social enterprises, which employ people who have a disability or are disadvantaged or marginalised.

“We are really proud to be partnered with organisations like these. They fit well with our ethos of creating a positive environmental and social impact,” Toni says.

Seats are also dismantled by offenders in Department of Corrections community work programmes. This is done for free and provides useful indoor activity and work experience for offenders, she says.

The SeatSmart programme not only aims to tackle the issue of thousands of seats going to landfill but create awareness around the seats having an expiry date.

“Seats generally have a lifespan of six to 10 years for safety reasons, so it’s important to check the expiry date on yours and have it replaced and recycled if it has expired,” Toni says.

SeatSmart is a great example of how the public is looking at what they put in the rubbish bin or dump, she says. 

“It’s good to see the movement away from plastic bags, straws and other single use plastics but we’d also encourage people to look beyond the small items to some of the larger items in our homes. Car seats, mattresses, tyres, electrical items – none of these things need go to landfill, we just need to change how we look at things, to see them as a useful resource, not rubbish.” 

To date the SeatSmart programme has collected 15,800 seats – equivalent to 55,800kg of plastic and metal. It now has 39 collection sites in 10 regions around the country.