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Child safety seats are an absolute necessity for all parents, but what happens when your child outgrows them? In most cases, they are simply stowed away somewhere in an attic or garage, or more than likely, they are sent off to the landfill. With as many child safety seats are in circulation – the environmental impact of all that waste is staggering. Let’s break down the numbers:How many used child safety seats are in the US today?
What is the environmental impact of landfilling used child safety seats in the US today? Why it matters and why you should care.
The waste management companies of the world will tell you that simply landfilling child safety seats isn’t an issue. Of course, they do. They make money by people throwing things away. If you assume the average car seat weighs 15 pounds, the average landfill cost is $52.73 per ton. With the average margin for landfill operations being around 60%, it certainly makes sense for waste management companies to want the volume. Who would refuse $18M in revenue and $10M in profit?
The environmental impacts of not recycling your old car seats are staggering:
Landfilling instead of recycling your old baby seat also has labor and local municipality impacts. Recycling a toddler car seat or an infant car seat requires labor to dismantle the car seats and separate the shell from the metallic parts, the foam, the nylon, and the fiber. Each of these materials is then processed by specialty recyclers to transform the material into ready-to-use raw material. According to the EPA WARM model, even if you assume that all nylon, foam, and fiber are landfilled - and only consider recycling the plastic and metal parts of 45M child safety seat represents a loss of 18M labor hours. That equates to nearly $414M in total wages and a $75.7M loss in incremental local taxes.
In addition, not recycling the plastics, metal, nylon, foam, or fibers from expired child safety seat car means burring valuable resources that we need to replace with virgin material. As we are all witnessing a global recovery, we see the effects of the current resource crisis as it manifests in less material being available, higher prices, and even more incentives to produce virgin plastic derived from petroleum which has proven to be an excessively polluting process. Quite simply: landfilling old child safety seats does not make sense.
So, what should you do with your expired or broken child safety seats?
Unfortunately, in the absence of legislation such as Extended Producer Liability that would require manufacturers to have a sustainable end of life program for all child safety seats they sell, consumers have limited choices. Here are a few options:
In conclusion, it’s a simple choice: it’s best not to landfill your old car seat. The environmental impact of throwing away your old child safety seat is just way too important. Please recycle expired or broken infant car seats, toddler car seats, and booster seats today.