Child car seat makers should do more to prevent their products “scandalously” going to landfill, according to the organisation representing councils.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says more than 250,000 child car seats reach their safety expiry date in the UK every year, and the seats are often “too hard” to dismantle. For safety reasons, seats are also not accepted at councils’ recycling centre re-use shops in case the seat has been damaged in an accident which has compromised its safety.

Furthermore, the seats have a lifespan of between six and 10 years because the plastic becomes weaker and more brittle as the seats age. As a result, the organisation says 90 percent of the 2.1 million seats made every year end up in landfill, causing the equivalent of up to 2,000 tonnes of “mostly recyclable” material to find their way into the ground.

Portrait of toddler boy sitting in car seat

That stat is prompting the LGA to call on the makers of child seats to recycle their own seats and offer “take-back” services that would allow parents to return the seats, rather than throw them away. The organisation has also urged companies to offer customers trade-in incentives for parents.

“Councils are reducing waste sent to landfill and want to increase recycling rates, but child car seats are too hard to recycle and can’t be accepted by re-use shops at local authority waste sites for safety reasons,” said Councillor David Renard, the LGA’s environment spokesperson. “Having to treat child car seats as waste is scandalous and is extremely frustrating for councils and parents who want to dispose of these seats responsibly.

Father securing toddler in car seat

“To help reduce the impact on the environment and help parents do the right thing, manufacturers need to set up their own recycling schemes for child car seats. Retailers and manufacturers should also follow the lead of other countries in helping parents avoid waste by offering take-back services, where old car seats are recycled into new products as part of a circular economy.

“Child car seats are likely to be around for a very long time and we want to work with the government and manufacturers to achieve a viable, long-term solution to recycling them.”

Father fastens infant baby in car seat has contacted several major UK car seat manufacturers for comment, but so far only Cybex has responded.

“Cybex is very aware of both the global plastic waste issue and issues specific to the UK,” said a company spokesperson. “Part of the work of the sustainability professionals at Cybex is to monitor the plastics issue across the globe every day.

“We are effectively reducing the environmental impact already within our supply chain management where we use recycled material for the production of non-safety critical components in new products in all our facilities worldwide and aim to be as energy efficient as possible. We are constantly working on our product packaging and developing recyclable packaging for our whole product range. And we are currently looking into solutions for the end-of-life management of our products.

“At Cybex, the ecological impact of our products is a priority. Some of the recent initiatives here include: low-carbon environmentally conscious alternate materials development using recycled and bio-renewable materials; upcycling options for used car seats; design for disassembly; reducing packaging materials; and complexity reduction.”