Your kid has outgrown another car seat. Now what?
Looking for a place to recycle your old car seat in the Champaign-Urbana area?
So are we.
Options are limited for car seat recycling in the area and it’s all due to cost, according to Urbana’s Recycling Coordinator Courtney Kwong.
“Unfortunately from the recyclers’ end of things the cost to hire workers to dismantle the plastic, process the plastic, and transport the plastic is costly. In return, the recycler may only be paid about 15 cents/lb. of plastic (depending upon current market prices). So the recycler would be lucky to break even,” Kwong said.
Kwong would like to see car seat manufacturers step up to the responsibility of providing end-of-life recycling for their products, which is why she urges people to write car seat manufacturers to express their concerns.
In the meantime, there are a few options available to help you get rid of your car seat in an eco-friendly way.
Take a Road Trip
OK, so driving two hours to recycle your car seat is not an ideal plan, but if you happen to be in the following area for other reasons, it could make more sense.
RecycleForce in Indianapolis, about a two-hour drive from Champaign, will recycle car seats for free. Drop off is Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They ask that you remove the car seat cover. Their main business is recycling consumer electronics, so check before you head out to see what else you could unload.
Target, everyone’s favorite big box store, has held car seat trade-in and recycling events in Champaign as recently as April 2021. When you bring in an old seat — whether or not you purchased it from Target — they give you a coupon through their app to use toward a new car seat. If you download the Target app now, you will probably receive advance notice of future events (which seem to come around Earth Day). Chambanamoms.com tries to post when these events happen. In the past, Walmart has also held carseat recycling events, but we haven’t seen one here in recent years.
Clek stands out as the one car seat manufacturer we know of to offer recycling. You request a recycling kit (which includes a prepaid UPS shipping label) in order to ship your old seat to them. They then send you a coupon worth up to $39.99 to use on a new Clek car seat. See the Clek site for exact details.
Sell or Donate
It’s not illegal to sell or donate a car seat, but there are things to consider when making sure your seat is safe enough to be reused. Your car seat should never have been in an accident, it shouldn’t be expired, and it should still have all of the original parts (including the user’s manual). You should also check for any manufacturer recalls before trying to sell or donate your car seat.
Our readers have recommended a few local organizations who may accept donations of usable car seats. They include The Family Room (a C-U organization serving families with foster children or children in transition) and ISC-U Immigrant Services of Champaign-Urbana (a group supporting the resettlement of immigrants and refugees).
Most consignment shops are wary of taking used car seats because it’s difficult to determine the condition and safety of used seats. One exception is the biannual One Week Boutique Children’s Consignment Sale, which typically allows the consignment/sale of accident-free car seats that have more than one year left before they expire. (Check their website to confirm sale schedule and current requirements.)
Do you know of other local groups that accept donations of used car seats? Email us and let us know.