Car seats are being driven to recycling stations around the country in their thousands in a bid to keep landfills clear.

Every year, more than 40,000 child car restraints reach their ''use by date'' with most ending up in a landfill, despite more than 90 per cent of a typical seat being recyclable.

Hastings-based recycling specialists, 3R Group, runs Seatsmart New Zealand's only child car seat recycling programme and is supported by the Hastings District Council.

SeatSmart programme manager Toni Bye said: "Many people aren't aware that children's car seats have a limited life span of six to 10 years."


"For a variety of reasons the materials can degrade and weaken over time, which may affect how they would perform in an accident."

"People generally send their old seats to the landfill, which is a waste of resources, or give them away which could unnecessarily put a child at risk.

"With SeatSmart, expired or damaged seats can be safely taken out of circulation and the materials recycled or repurposed," Mrs Bye said.

So far SeatSmart has been introduced in six places, including Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Nelson, Christchurch and Hastings.

In the short time it has been operating, nearly 4000 seats have been recycled.

The plastic from the seats is recycled into new products used in the building industry and metal parts are also easily recycled.

"We like to think that landfill should be the last option, not the default. So often, products that are put in the 'too hard basket' and simply dumped are highly recyclable.
Mattresses, tyres, paint, chemical containers, textiles, contaminated plastics, these are just some of the products that we tackle."

While in many districts there is a $10 charge for recycling car seats, in Hastings there is no fee as the programme is supported by Hastings District Council.

"The recycling depot has always received enquiries about how to recycle old child seats making it the ideal drop-off hub. It is fantastic to see how these seats are recycled into so many useful products, which ultimately reduces the amount of waste we put into our landfill," Council's Waste Minimisation Manager Dominic Salmon said.

The straps and webbing are used by Karkt NZ and The Green Collective which make handmade bags from recycled items.

Only fabric covers and polystyrene, around six per cent of a seat's weight, are cannot be recycled.

Along with reducing waste to landfill, the programme also aims to improve awareness of car seat expiry dates.

In Hastings, anyone with damaged or expired child car seats can take them to the recycling area at the Henderson Road Refuse Transfer Station. More information can be found on the SeatSmart website