Car seats are an essential investment for new parents, especially when it seems more time is spent in the car than in the home. It is vital to choose a reliable car seat that fits your child’s size and age, and is appropriate for your vehicle type. It is also important to know when your child’s car seat expires, and where to check the expiration date.
Why Do Car Seats Expire?
Car seats usually expire 6 to 10 years after their date of manufacture, on a date set by the individual car seat manufacturers. There is not one set reason for their expiration, but it could be due to reasons such as wear and tear, updated safety regulations, and limitations on manufacturing testing.
It’s also recommended that any car seat that has been involved in a moderate to severe crash be replaced with a new one. Research and crash test data, advancements in materials, technology, and manufacturing, all allow for new car seats to be designed with improved functionality and safety.
In order to adhere to these safety improvements and guidelines, it is critical to be aware of these expiration dates to keep your children as safe as possible while traveling in the car.
Where Is The Expiration Date?
In order to find the expiration date of a car seat, you first need to locate the white (or sometimes silver) sticker on the plastic shell of the seat. This label provides the serial number, as well as the manufacture and expiration dates. Then, the expiration date can be seen marked with words such as “Expires On,” or “Do Not Use After.” Expired car seats may not adequately protect children and infants, so as these labels suggest, should not be used after their date of expiration.
Depending on the brand and style of the car seat, the sticker may be located in a slightly different location than others, and is oftentimes found under the fabric of the car seat. Visual examples of these stickers on the most popular car seat brands such as Britax, Chicco, and Nuna can be found here.
Where Can Expired Car Seats Be Recycled?
Clek’s Car Seat Trade-in Program:
Clek offers an affordable, nationwide car seat recycling program that is available all year long. Clek accepts child safety seats of any brand or model and can be recycled by ordering a custom recycling kit.
The kit includes a custom shipping and recycling bag and a prepaid shipping label.The expired car seat can be placed in the provided bag with the shipping label and dropped off at a local UPS store.The seat will be recycled by one of Clek’s material recovery and processing partners. In exchange, either a $10 off of $40 or more or a 10% off purchase of $100 or more coupon can be used on the Clek website.
Car seats can also be recycled at home, but must be done properly in order for the product to be recycled. When preparing these items for recycling, strip the car seat of its fabric and padding and throw these items away. The remaining plastic shell can then be recycled. However, the harness straps should be cut out of the seat and discarded.
It is also recommended that “Expired” and/or “Do Not Use” should be written on the seat before recycling it, in order to prevent anyone from attempting to use the unsafe seat for their own children. Step-by-step instructions for preparing a car seat for recycling can be found here.
Target Car Seat Trade-in Event:
Held twice a year, Target’s Car Seat Trade-in Event provides an opportunity for anyone with an expired car seat of any kind to be exchanged for a 20 percent off coupon towards a new car seat, car seat base, travel system or stroller, or select bay home gear within the store.The program launched in April 2022, and the next event is projected to take place in September 2022.
Materials from the old car seats are recycled by Target’s partner, Waste Management, to create new products such as pallets and plastic buckets, and construction materials such as steel beams and carpet padding. A full list of FAQs about this program can be found here.
TerraCycle and Century Baby Gear Free Recycling Program:
TerraCycle currently partners with Century Baby Gear to provide a free recycling program for all expired Century baby gear products such as car seats, high chairs, strollers and play yards.
Simply create an account with Terracycle, download a free shipping label for the expired Century baby gear product, pack up the item, and send it off to TerraCycle for recycling. TerraCycle offers a reward point program and 100 points can be earned per pound of recyclable material. These points can then be used as a monetary donation to the nonprofit organization or school of your choice.
TerraCylcle cleans all of the recycled items before separating them into plastics and fabrics that can be recycled into raw materials for new products, and metals are melted down and reused for new items. Learn more about the Free Recycling Program here.