Safe Kids

How to Dispose of your Expired Seats


Excerpt from CPS Express MAY/JUNE 2016 edition:

How to Dispose of your Expired Seats 

As Child Passenger Safety technicians, we know that we want to discontinue use of seats at their expiration date. Child restraint manufacturers put expiration dates on seats for several reasons. The plastic shells and components may degrade over time. Parts may be damaged or lost. Labels may no longer be present or legible. The seats may be recalled. Technological advances on newer seats may help to protect the child better. 

So the car seat or booster seat has served its useful life…what should you do with it now? We don’t want someone to find it and think they found a treasure in the trash. 

A review of several child restraint owner’s manuals provides varying advice. Some manufacturers simply state to discontinue use and/or throw away the seat when it reaches its expiration date. Others recommend recycling the seat and may give specific instructions on how to do so.  

Starting with the “green” approach, you may be able to recycle the seat in some areas of the country.  For a comprehensive list, visit The level of preparation for recycling may vary by recycling program.  Some will accept the seat as is. Others may request that all fabric, foam, webbing and components (buckle, anchor attachments, harness retainer clip) be removed prior to dropping off the seats. Metal components, i.e. lower anchor or tether anchor attachments, may be recycled separately from the shells. Recycling options for the hard-core foam are very limited nationally. Currently, there is not a recycling market for fabric, soft foam and webbing. 

If recycling is not available in your area, the seat should be prepared for disposal. Remove all fabric, foam, webbing and components and dispose of separately. Mark the shell and/or base with “DO NOT USE”, “BAD” or “EXPIRED”. In order to discourage reuse, make the seat look as undesirable to use as possible. Throw away in black plastic bags that are not see-through.

Be creative, too, with reusing the components. Some groups donate the seat covers to animal shelters to use as liners in cages. Other programs give seat covers and components to local crafting individuals who make CPS-themed bags and purses.  

Submitted by Tammy Franks, National CPS Board, CPS Advocate, Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel (Portland, Ore.)