– Submitted by Cariboo-Chilcotin Conservation Society –

Waste Wise is proposing a one-year pilot program to recycle car seats, with direct reporting to ICBC that could result in partial funding from the corporation.


Mary Forbes and Misty Schulz recycling the car seats. Photo submitted by Mary Forbes
Mary Forbes and Misty Schulz recycling the car seats. Photo submitted by Mary Forbes

After one of her recent school presentations, local Waste Wise educator Mary Forbes found herself contemplating the issue of old car seats as waste. She wondered, “Are they recyclable?” “The plastic is recyclable, so why doesn’t somebody recycle them?” “What about the fabric covers and the buckles?” Mary contacted ICBC and the Recycling Council of BC as well as West Coast Plastics to see if it was even possible.

ICBC in Williams Lake collects car seats from accidents and destroys them—the seats have the fabric cut and the plastic chipped still end up in the landfill. However, Forbes found out expired car seats are the number one public surrendered item to West Coast Plastics and they would like to see more.

Fabric car seat covers are included in the soft items collected by the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Williams Lake so their weight can contribute to the funds they receive for textile recycling. All that is left is getting the seats to the recycler. Forbes travels to Vancouver every couple months and will deliver them for the first year.

The Conservation Society Waste Wise staff will record the metrics and successes of this pilot in the Cariboo Regional District for one year during which time it will work with the staff and board of ICBC in hopes its Road Safety and Environmental Sustainability Divisions will consider adopting the program provincially, and providing transportation for the car seats to the recycling facility. During the pilot project, Forbes will present at the Recycling Council of BC Zero Waste Conference in Whistler June 21–23 and again at the Recycling Council of Alberta’s Zero Waste conference in Lake Louise, Alberta October 11–13.

Car seat drop off locations will be available at the Williams Lake Car Club Show and Shine, Children’s Festival, Seedy Saturday, The Bike Rodeo, Baby Fest and Children’s Fest, and other public events around the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Used car seats can be dropped off at Pregnancy Outreach in Williams Lake at 202 4th Avenue North where expiry dates and recalls will be checked and all unsafe seats will be sent for recycling.

Williams Lake Pregnancy Outreach accepts used car seats, and will sent recalled or expired seats to Waste Wise for recycling. In return, any non-expired car seats collected by Waste Wise at other venues will be donated to Pregnancy Outreach for community distribution.

Waste Wise in partnership with Pregnancy Outreach will be running a booth at select community events, accepting used car seats for redistribution or recycling and teaching people how to properly install them in vehicles.

As a part of the car seat project Waste Wise is investigating options for textile recycling in Williams Lake. Big Brothers and Sisters has set up eight purple soft item collection bins around Williams Lake where any clean soft item sealed in a plastic bag can be donated, including single socks, soft toys, worn out clothing, ripped sheets, stained towels, and even underwear.

Posters advertising program details and drop-off locations will be widely available within the region in partner locations, and at autobody shops, daycares, schools, stores, the Welcome Wagon, and the City of Williams Lake and Cariboo Regional District. One of the best locations will be the region’s Share Sheds, a waste reduction initiative where people can freely drop off and collect useful used items.

Promotion will include social media sites, website promotion, and radio ads. The Recycling Council of British Columbia (RCBC) is thrilled at this project proposal and will support and promote the initiative with the Recycling Hotline and free Recycleapedia App.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society is a not for profit organization working with local municipalities providing inspiring and accurate environmental educational services for the community and classrooms in our region. For a detailed history, visit our website at www.ccconserv.org or our Facebook page.

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1 Comment

  1. Curious about this initiative. I now have 2 seats that are expired and can’t bring myself to just trash them.
    Now what? The closest recycling is 6 hrs away… I live on North Vancouver Island.