Child and infant car seats cannot be recycled in your recycling bin.
Why can’t car seats be recycled?
Although car seats are made of many recyclable materials, they are very difficult to deconstruct and are not able to be recycled in the normal recycling process made for single stream items. Most regular recycling programs cannot or will not take them and Sioux Falls is no different.
What to do with old car seats in our area?
Reuse: WARNING – Car seats must not be reused if they are expired, have been in an accident, have been recalled, have any damage, or are more than six years old. The plastic and other components begin to break down and may not be safe or hold up in a crash. Not every car seat can be safely reused and the cost savings is not worth the risk. With that said, car seats can be reused if all of the above mentioned reasons are “no’s” and you know the history of the seat. Before reusing a car seat, have it inspected by professionals to make sure it is in good working condition. Many thrift stores and secondhand stores are not legally able to accept car seats.
Take Back Programs: Some stores offer trade-in programs where you can get coupons or perks for taking back old carseats. Target for example has a great car seat recycling program, but you have to wait until their take back event. You can also contact your car seat manufacturer to ask them if they have a recycling take back program. If not, let them know they need one! With how difficult car seats are to recycle, we as consumers should advocate for more easily recyclable car seats by telling the manufacturers- the more voices they hear the more likely they are to give us an answer.
Mail it in: A national mail in program called BabyEarth Renew does accept these hard to recycle types of baby products (strollers, high chairs, and car seats). You have to pay shipping costs to get it to them but they handle the rest, making sure all usable parts are recycled and reused.
Other recycling: There are currently no car seat recycling programs in South Dakota, but there are some options in neighboring states, see a list here.
Dispose: If you choose to throw away your used carseat, prevent dumpster divers from trying to reuse an unsafe car seat (due to the reasons listed above), by clearly labeling it with “TRASH”, “EXPIRED” or “NOT SAFE”, or dismantle it so it cannot be used.
To review South Dakota’s child safety seat guidelines, visit dps.sd.gov.