Eco-tip: County to accept drop-offs for America Recycles Day
David Goldstein, Special to Ventura County Star Published 3:22 p.m. PT Nov. 16, 2019
Monday and Tuesday, in celebration of the 22nd annual America Recycles Day, the Ventura County Public Works Agency and General Services Agency are coordinating a multi-material collection event at the Ventura County Government Center.
In the Hall of Administration main entry hallway, the public may drop off gently used shoes, prescription eyeglasses, gently used twin-size blankets and non-expired car seats during normal business hours.
The shoes will be donated to Soles4Souls, while the Lions Clubs’ Recycle for Sight Program will collect the eyeglasses and eyeglass cases, and the blankets and car seats will go to the RAIN Transitional Living Center.
Simultaneously, at the Services Building at the north end of the campus, the General Services Agency will host an electronic waste recycling event. The electronics collection will accept most working or non-working items that run on a battery or plug into an electrical socket; however, refrigerators, ovens, washers, dryers, and other major appliances cannot be accepted.
Of the recycling and reuse opportunities available over the next two days at the center, 800 S. Victoria Ave. in Ventura, the most unusual is the drop-off opportunity for car seats.
Who’ll accept used car seats?
Target stores nationwide had a 10-day “trade in” event last September, offering those who dropped off car seats a coupon for a 20% discount on a new seat. But such events are rare, and Target representatives were not able to tell me whether they would schedule another such event in 2020. Events are rare due to the lack of reuse and recycling options.
I surveyed local thrift stores and found many accept booster seats, but few accept rear-facing or standard child safety car seats.
Super Thrift in Oxnard takes all types of seats, but Goodwill centers throughout the county do not. Those accepting some seats still discard ones past the stamped “expiration” date, or six years past the “manufactured” date. One not accepting seats cited the risk of unknowingly reselling a seat covered by a manufacturer recall and did not have the labor time required to check each seat’s recall status.
Recycling is also not generally available. For example, seats are not accepted in Ventura County curbside recycling collection programs. During this time of reduced markets for plastics, an upholstered item made of multiple plastic types and containing metal pieces is difficult to recycle, especially when it arrives at a facility mixed with other recyclables.
Instead, Nan Drake, spokesperson for Harrison Industries, encourages waste reduction for car seats. She introduced me by phone to Peggy Buehler, a grandmother in Ventura. Buehler who has five grandkids and another grandchild due in a couple weeks, who described a type of seat designed to be useful for the full six years of its intended life.
Some seats (such as the Safety 1st Grow and the Graco Nautilus) are like a Transformer toy— they can change as your child grows. They adjust and reassemble according to the size and weight of a child.
Why is there an expiration date?
An article on verywell.com, written by Jennifer White and reviewed by Dr. Joel Forman, answers the question: Do car seats really expire, or is that a ploy from manufacturers to make more money?
The authors answer the question by supporting expiration claims. They cite technology improvements, tightening standards and seat deterioration. Seats deteriorate in part because of the heat inside a car parked in the sun.
Car seats involved in accidents must also be discarded. One of Buehler’s children was in a rearend car accident, and even though this did not appear to affect the seat, which thankfully was empty at the time, the insurance company covering the accident required replacement of the seat, reimbursing for the old seat after obtaining a receipt for a new one.
Seats involved in accidents or past expiration dates should be discarded in curbside garbage carts.