Want to keep kids safe while "out-greening" your eco-conscious friends and neighbors?
Recycle your expired and unusable car seats, which has the dual benefit of removing unsafe seats from circulation without clogging landfills, say Salt Lake County health officials.
Safety experts say after five to six years, plastics become brittle, which can cause a car seat to shatter on impact.
Car seats should not be used after they've been in an automobile accident or for longer than six years, said Salt Lake County injury-prevention expert May Romo. "That's why you should never buy a used car seat at a thrift store or garage sale."
But in Utah, with its unparalleled birth rate, those boosters and baby carriers accumulate fast.
Every child discarding a seat would create 352 tons of trash, the equivalent of about 88 elephants, according to the health department. Car seat plastics take 100 to 1,000 years to decompose. And three years ago, recycling options were virtually nonexistent. A 2009 survey of recycling companies in the Salt Lake Valley found none would accept compound, or mixed, plastics, Romo said.
In 2010, the county struck a deal with URECYCLE, which grinds the plastic shells into flakes for sale to plastic molding companies that make toys, hangers and other goods.
Romo said the company is still the only local recycler that uses 100 percent of the plastic; it grinds it up and ships it to California where it's used for other purposes.
The county has six drop-off sites, or recycling sheds, where families can discard their used car seats year round.
Salt Lake County Health Department has six recycling stations where you can safely discard used car seats.
Salt Lake City
2064 W. Alexander St. (2410 South)
• Health Department, South Main Clinic
3690 S. Main St.
• Salt Lake Valley Transfer Station
502 W. 3300 South
• Murray Fire Station #84
163 E. 5900 South
• Riverton City Park
12765 S. 1400 West
• Inside West Valley City Hall
3600 S. Constitution Blvd.