Want Car Recycling in your Town?

large_seat heap
Photo courtesy of NJ.com’s coverage of last years car seat recycling.

As a follow-up to my recycling car seat post, Jennifer Carcich and Linnea Hasegawa of the Morristown Moms and Tots sought car recycling in their town last year and furnished me with a copy of their letter for use  by anyone who desire car seat recycling in their own town.  As I mentioned in my previous article, they were successful in persuading the town and now car recycling is part of the town’s overall recycling program.

Dear Mr. Fabrizio,

Thank you so much for hearing our concerns about the need for a car safety seat recycling program in Morris County. While we acknowledge the many challenges associated with such an endeavor, we also feel strongly that the residents of Morris County would work together to put a car seat recycling service in place if we had the support of the right people, associations and businesses.

Most people don’t realize that car safety seats expire five to six years after production — the plastics used to make these seats deteriorate over time due to sun and heat exposure, rendering them unsafe for use. Currently, car seat owners have one of two choices for disposing of used/expired seats – either to give them away or throw them away — both of which are problematic. Charities and/or consignment shops that are willing to accept them have no way of screening the seats to determine whether or not they’ve been in an accident. Placing a seat out on the curb for garbage pick-up is also risky because someone may take it and unwittingly put their child in danger by using an expired/defective seat

Morristown is now accepting #5 plastics (most car safety seats are made from #5 plastic), but they limit this to bottles and jugs. We have asked if they would take disassembled car seats and their answer was “No.” After many futile conversations with potential “buyers” or recyclers of this plastic, we finally found someone willing to help. Joe McNellis of Greensky Industries in Clifton, NJ told us that he would take our #5 plastic car seats as long as we separate all the materials and give him the plastic only. Emily Holland of Babies R Us in East Hanover said they would both advertise the recycling program and provide a drop-off box at their store (PODS has offered to donate a container for this purpose).

Disassembly and transportation would be up to us. For disassembling the seats, we have a couple of ideas: the town could offer the job as community service work for persons in the S.L.A.P. program; and the Vocational Technical School could present the job as a “project” for some of its students. Transportation fees could be covered partially by the funds we receive from the drop offs. We anticipate that most people would be willing to pay $5 per seat to have it recycled rather than trashed. (Note: If Morristown is willing to accept the seats for recycling, transportation fees would diminish significantly.) As for advertising, we already have the blessing and support of the MUA (Liz Sweedy and Penny Jones in particular have provided invaluable assistance), Babies R Us in East Hanover, and our own Morristown Moms and Tots group which has over 75 members and is also affiliated with the Newcomers, Friends and Neighbors of Morristown and the Burnham Park Association. Other businesses and associations that might be willing to help advertise, collect seats, or even provide volunteer workers include our local children’s consignment shops (e.g., Milk Money, Twice Is Nice, KID’swap!), the Market Street Mission, the Recycling Center on Lake Rd., Atlantic Health/Morristown Memorial Hospital, and Northern New Jersey Safe Kids/Safe Communities.

There are many (possibly over one hundred) car safety seat recycling programs across the country; however, as far as we know, none exists in the state of New Jersey.. The following programs and websites may serve as examples to us as we begin to think through the logistics of starting our own recycling effort here in Morris County.

• The Colorado Children’s Automobile Safety Foundation has a car seat recycling program that began in 2002. For more information on this program, see http://www.carseatprogram.com/car-seat-recycling-program.html.

• Tammy Franks, Child Passenger Safety Coordinator at Legacy Emanuel Children’s Hospital in Portland, OR, has also been deeply committed to this effort. She and Tom Badrick, the Sustainability Coordinator, have been working on a car seat recycling program since 2007 and so far have collected approximately 1,500 car seats. Tammy has graciously shared some information with us (please see attached) to assist us in our effort. See also http://www.legacyhealth.org/body.cfm?id=2105 for more information. [Editor note, the information is not part of this post.]

We have sent this letter to Councilwoman Deeb and Councilwoman Feldman to “officially” ask the town for help. Please let us know if you would be interested in supporting this effort and if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Thank you,

Linnea Hasegawa
Morristown Moms & Tots Recycling Committee Member
(address omitted)

Jennifer Carcich
Morristown Moms & Tots Recycling Committee Member
(address omitted)

Thanks Jennifer for helping others in their quest to have car seat recycling in their town.

Editor’s note:  I made a mistake when I first printed the article implying the organization was seeking car recycling in the county.  I misunderstood their email and have corrected the article.

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    We just moved B into his convertible carseat and I was staring at his infant seat yesterday wondering WTH we are going to do with it. I don’t think our region recycles them but I am going to try and find out what our options are!


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