In response, Zero Waste Washington reached out to Total Reclaim, a recycling plant in South Seattle. Now, parents can bring used car seats to the recycling facility, located at 2200 6th Ave. South. Workers will dismantle and separate the pieces so they can be processed for a small fee, typically $5.
"The old way wasn't to recycle. It was to put [car seats] in the trash. When that happens, the seats are going to a landfill. It's really a waste of the metal and the plastic and the seats because they're not reused," said Suellen Mele with Zero Waste Washington. "But when they come here, those materials will be separated out. They'll go back into some product that can use them."
While a good car seat can be safely used for a few years, they don't last forever. Most car seats expire around six years after the manufacture date. The date is usually printed on the bottom or the back of the car seat.
According to Mele, another good option is a reuse program through WestSide Baby. Families can donate a car seat to the social service agency in West King County. A trained technician will inspect it, go over the history of the car seat and make sure it hasn't been in any accidents. If a technician approves the car seat, it will go to a family in need. Click here for a list of WestSide Baby donation drop-off sites.
There are several other car seat recycling programs in King County. Click here for a full list of recycling programs.