Environment Minister Sussan Ley says she intents to add child car seats the Product Stewardship Act Priority List, following the establishment of a new stewardship scheme for the product.
The new scheme will work to provide convenient solutions for old, unwanted and potentially unsafe child car seat disposal.
“More than 1,400,000 new child car seats are sold annually in Australia,” Ms Ley said.
“The Memorandum of Understanding signed today (13 November) sees car seat manufacturers, retailers and motoring associations coming together for the first time to adopt the SeatCare program, which makes it easy for parents and families to dispose of old and potentially dangerous child safety seats for recycling.”
The industry led scheme is being co-designed and built by sustainability and environmental management consultants Equilibrium.
According to an Equilibrium statement, there is currently no Australian program to support the take-back of old child car safety seats.
“Simultaneously, there is a growing public expectation that producers and retailers are well placed to demonstrate their corporate social and environmental responsibility in a very practical manner,” the statement reads.
“As a result, SeatCare is a timely solution that will address both safety and environmental objectives in a practical way.”
Based on the 10-year recommended maximum life span of child car safety seats, national birth-rates, estimated changeover rate of units per child and per family, trials have found that up to one million child car safety seats can potentially be captured and removed from the market per year.
Equilibrium ran a trial in 2017 throughout Queensland, NSW and Victoria, which according to the statement, successfully collected 1921 seats for recovery and recycling and diverted 10,342 kilograms of material including plastic and steel from landfill.
“It is estimated that over 200,000 child car seats are disposed of every year, with the majority being sent to landfill,” the statement reads.
“This is despite the fact that over 80 per cent of child car safety seats can be recycled once dismantled. A product with such a significant percentage of recyclable material should be considered a valuable resource that is wasted when sent to landfill.”
Equilibrium General Manager Damien Wigley said SeatCare will provide a unique community service that can improve road safety while also reducing waste to landfill.
“SeatCare is an excellent example of how manufacturers, auto associations, safety advocates and environmental specialists can create positive waste reduction programs that meet consumer expectations,” Mr Wigley said.
“SeatCare demonstrates how voluntary approaches to product stewardship can be achieved in a timely and outcome-oriented way. Multi-stakeholder involvement from the outset is the key to such programs, as is equitable co-funding, transparency and environmental sound processes.”
Once established, SeatCare intends to progressively roll out collection sites in mid-2020, with an initial target of 25 locations.
“As the program expands, this number will grow and potentially could build to around 60 collection sites in both metropolitan and regional areas, and involve a number of accredited dismantling organisations and plastic and metal recyclers,” the statement reads.
SeatCare will accept:
Rear facing carriers
Forward facing seats
Car seat and carrier frames
Car seat and carrier strapping
Items that attach directly to the seat or carrier supported by the manufacturer