Recycling the Old Carseat

Parent Q&A

  • How do you get rid of a car seat?

    (4 replies)

    Without companies accepting old car seats for trade, how are you getting rid of old/expired car seats?

    Target has regular recycling events where you bring in your old car seat(s) and get a 10% off coupon for new carseat or stroller. 

    Is it in good condition? I know a homecare daycare that is looking for car seats.

    You can recycle on Terracycle. It's very expensive though I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a way to recycle a car seat last year but didn't find anything outside of the Target/Walmart buybacks that happen once a year. (and I am not sure it is happening this year, there is no info on their website). I didn't want to keep a giant carseat in our tiny apartment for months so I ended up throwing it away. 

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2010 - 2014 Recommendations

Ecological nightmare of expired car seats

May 2014

Have we truly not found some way (even in Berkeley) to avoid trashing expired or expiring child car seats and booster seats? We have one no longer used that will be expiring in Dec 2014. I went online and found some agency in Austin, TX called BabyEarthRENEW (, which will take apart various forms of baby gear, including car seats, and send all usable parts to accredited recycling centers and for use in construction projects. I am wrestling with whether I can allocate the time and expense to mail it to Austin in order to avoid throwing it in the local garbage. Anyone out there equally garbage-averse, who has any idea how we might start something like that here? Or knows anywhere around here that will take these items and put the components to some recycled use? Kate

EXPIRED Car-seats? From an engineering and material science perspective I can tell you that most materials used to make child car-seats will remain on the earth long after you and I have left. The only significant degradable material is the padding and cloth which poses a comfort issue. The belts, straps, plastic body, and buckles will most likely withstand generations of use. Car-seat manufacturers like the idea of selling you something with planned obsolescence so you can just buy a new one in 5 years to replace the perfectly safe and functional one you already have. The answer to your dilemma is simple. Place the car seat on a corner in an area where families can't afford to spend $100-$500 on a car-seat. Within a short time your car-seat or drop side crib will be whisked away to provide for the safety of a child that would otherwise go without. practical

If a car seat has not been in an accident, or exposed to extreme environmental conditions, it doesn't just become ''expired'' all of a sudden. I personally think the whole thing is a scam - the best way to avoid putting a perfectly usable car seat into a landfill is to pass it along to someone in need. Family shelters, Freecycle, Craigslist Free, etc. are the best way to ''recycle'' items like this, in my opinion. I haven't heard of any local facilities that actually reuse/recycle retired/broken car seat components. not a believer in car seat expiration

It's really a shame that Detroit can't convince people that their CARS will expire, too. Then we would be forced to buy brand-new cars every five years and we could save the automotive industry.

I am quite sure you can give your car seat away without fear that you will be harming anyone who uses it. If it is safe in November 2014 it will not be dangerous in January 2015. Safety scam

Good news! You can now drop off expired car seats or car seats that have been in an accident at the El Cerrito Recycling Center and the Berkeley Recycling Center (click on Plastics). Look for the bins for Rigid Plastics. This is also a place you could drop other large plastic items that are no longer reusable.

Do be sure to take off the cover and buckles. Consider posting these for free on BPN, Craigslist, or FreeCycle with the specific make and model as many parents would love to have a back up set when the cover is soiled (read: barfed on, etc.). Before stripping the car seat, consider snapping a photo to post with the offer. Twin Mama

Recycling old car seat

Oct 2013

We have an old car seat that is past its expiration date and so we can't give it away to someone. There aren't any current posts about recycling options for car seats in the bay area. I know I need to cut the straps and the fabric to prevent someone from trying to use it but I'd like to know if there is any way to avoid sending it to the land fill. Any current information would be appreciated. Thanks Sharie

I had the same question about a month ago regarding our expired car seats. I called the El Cerrito Recycling Center and was told to cut off all straps and fabric covers (these went into a landfill) and to bring the plastic base to the recycling center. There is a large bin marked ''Hard Plastic'' or something similar to that. Here's the center's website: anon

Honestly, I see the ''expiration dating'' on car seats as a suggestion (and mostly manufacturer fearmongering). Unless the seat has been in an accident, or is brittle from years of exposure to the elements, it's most likely perfectly usable for a family in need. I freecycled my son's old car seat last year (it was a year or so beyond the ''expiration date'' and I disclosed it as such) and a low income family with a toddler was thrilled to have it. If you're not comfortable with passing it to another family, really your only other option is to junk it. expiration dates are for food and medicine

I'm sure others will tell you the same. Offer it for free on BPN Marketplace to be used for the carseat trade-in event at ToysRUs that happens twice a year . Someone will take it. Toys R Us will give you 25% off on any new carseat/crib/swing/stroller when you bring in an old one (expired or not). They'll recycle it. I think the next one is in January. -

Car accident - what to do with booster seat?

Feb 2010

We were recently involved in a very minor car accident. Our kids were in the back seat in booster seats and didn't even notice that someone hit us. Nobody was hurt but our car needs a little paint job. My question is - do we need to replace the boosters? Obviously, nothing happened to the seats but are they still a safety risk? Do we need to replace them in order to be covered by our insurance in case we'll have another accident in the future? Kids don't want to have new seats - they like their old ones (but being safe is more important). Our insurance covers new ones, I'm just wondering if we need them. Seems a little wasteful to send 2 seemingly perfect seats to landfill. to toss or not to toss?

Destroy it. there is an easy can google it. Our insurance company paid for the replacement when we had a tiny incident. it's really not worth salvaging something that might not be safe anon

From what I understand, booster seats don't need to be replaced in the same way car seats do after an accident. Booster seats just raise your kids up so they can use the seat belt. They don't have their own restraint system like car seats do. Hope this helps! Beth

I think I was more rough on the booster seat just getting it in and out of the car than the fender bender you describe. I cannot imagine there is anything wrong with it. IMO this is all dreamed up by the manufacturers to increase their sales.

I'm looking forward to the responses on this one. We are in the same situation--minor accident (my son even slept through it), superficial damage only. Insurance said that the law requires them to pay us for new car seats, so we were forced to buy them.

I'm not sure what to do with the old ones, though it seems clear by the paperwork that we did that we have to get them out of this car. If there were another accident in it, the insurance company would be able to use them to get out of paying out, right? On the other hand, we bought the same car seats--color and all--so how on earth would they know?

This is just one of those cases where the letter of the law gets in the way of common sense, and forces waste upon us. However, if it saves someone else the hassle of having to fight their insurance company for a necessary seat replacement, I guess it is worth it.

For all of us who've wondered if we really need to replace the car seat after a minor accident, here's the policy regarding that from the National Highway Safety Administration. Forget the insurance company's advice: if you can check off all 5 criteria, you don't need to replace it. Go ahead & get a new one if they'll pay for it, & then you'll have an extra seat, which is handy. ari

2005 - 2009 Recommendations

Feb 2008

Just a reminder to buyers and sellers of used car seats to make sure you are aware of their expiration dates. They vary among manufacturers, but you can usually find the information in the user manual online. The expiration has to do with the integrity of aging plastic parts, not how well you care for or how heavily you use the seat. More info here Be safe! Nina

Recycling a carseat: How old is too old?

Oct 2007

Car seats have expiration dates - check the tag. If it's past the expiration date, you'll have to just get rid of it. If you can't find an expiration date, then use 6 years after the manufacture date as the expiration date. The reason is that carseats are made of plastic, and plastic breaks down, becomes more brittle, and cracks over time. You may not be able to see this. For more information about this, see Do Car Seats Expire? at

California DMV: resale of car seats

June 2007

The following pages are on the website for the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and contain information about re-selling a car seat.

Child Passenger Restraint System: Prohibition Against Resale After Accident
Carseats that have been in an accident may not be re-sold.

Insurance Code
Liability insurance must cover replacement of carseats involved in an accident. Carseats that were involved in an accident may be taken to the California Highway Patrol.

2004 & Earlier

What to do with old car seats?

May 2004

I have several used carseats that I no longer need. Goodwill does not take them, probably because of potential liability issues. Are there organizations or people who might need them, or must I throw them away at the landfill? Thanks -- Sarah

Child's Play on College Ave and Chabot in Rockridge buys and sells used car seats (as well as kids clothes, toys, other equipment). Call them first. They have limited buying hours. BANANAS on Claremont near Telegraph takes donations of kids clothes and toys. I bet they'd take donations of equipment. Call first. Lori

Carseat in a Fender-bender

March 2004

We have a nice Britax carseat that was in our car when we had a minor fender- bender. Because we were not at fault in the accident, the insurance company has agreed to replace it... I am wondering what the best thing to do with the old carseat would be, I hate to create landfill and just dump it in the trash but I would feel bad if another child in another car was not properly restrained by it in an accident. looking for a ''third way''

We were recently in a very minor fender bender in a parking lot where both cars were going less than 5 miles per hour. We replaced the convertable seat, but not the booster and got reimbursed by the insurance agency. Our rationale was that the possibility that the booster was cracked seemd to have no effect on the safety as the point of the booster is only to raise the child up so they seat belt can fit correctly.

Since then I have received information that suggests that the seats were safe. According to SafetyBestSafe U.S.A., the National Highway Safey Administration recently reversed its recommendation to discontinue use of safety seats involved in a crash. IF the safety seat and the door next to it were not visably damaged, the air bag was not deployed, no one was injured, and the car could be driven, the safety seat need not be replaced.

If you have already purchased new seats, I would recommend you donate them. For more information you can call (800)745-SAFE, (310)222-6860, or (800) 747-SANO (spanish) or look at They also do great car seat checkups and are very helpful with general car seat information. mel

Our babysitter was in a minor accident recently with our 3 year old. There were no injuries to any occupants of the cars, and she was able to drive her car away from the scene. Her insurance company said they'd replace our car seat, but they needed the carseat first, so they could destroy it so no one would use a seat that had been in an accident. Your insurance company may have the same policy, and that may be the end of the story.

As our son is about to graduate to a booster seat, I checked the NHTSA website to see what the standards currently are, as the seat seemed fine. The new government guidelines say that if the seat is not cracked or bent, and if the accident was minor enought that there were no injuries to any passengers, the car could be driven away from the accident, and no airbags deployed, then it's OK to keep the seat. Many people may feel that they should still get a new seat, especially when they are offered a new one by thier insurance company, but I thought you may be interested in this info. Glad to hear your accident was minor! Kim

Carseat in a fender bender I was recently in a fender bender too. I was told at the accident that the HIghway Patrol has a program where they exchange a voucher for the accident car seat. The insurance pays you for the replacement with the voucher, and the CHP properly disposes of the car seat. But my accident wasn't bad. So I went to the National Highway Traffic Safety Website and they have a page about carseats in an acccident: http:// index.htm They actually have a checklist to determine if your car seat needs to be replaced or not, and the testing they have done to determine this list. Hope all are well and safe. Julia