Car seat trade-in programs are an excellent opportunity to recycle old car seats. These trade-in programs solve one of our most common challenges as parents: what to do with a car seat when our children have outgrown them or when the seats reach their expiry date. When you participate, you’re also contributing towards environmental conservation as the materials from the old car seats are used to make new products, including plastic buckets and pallets.
The US has many trade-in programs. For instance, Walmart, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, TerraCycle, Costco, and more all offer excellent rewards and discounts for trading in and recycling your used car seat.
But how do I participate in car seat trade-n programs? This is the question I answer in this article. We will cover the most common trade-in program in 2023.
Why Should You Trade In Your Car Seat?
Car seats do expire, so you should consider trading yours in. The materials degrade after time due to exposure to the elements. Many car seats become unusable after five to six years.
Furthermore, if a car seat is involved in a crash, it should not be reused. Car seats involved in car crashes experience tremendous stress, so their integrity is compromised. This causes many car seats to be disposed of annually, creating an environmental problem.
However, by utilizing a car seat recycling program, you not only help save the environment, but you can also earn rewards and coupons. You can use them to buy a new car seat or other baby products.
Target Car Seat Trade-in Program
Target reports that it has recycled 2.19 million car seats since 2016, producing 32.9 million pounds of old car seat materials used to manufacture new products like plastic buckets, pallets, steel beams, and carpet padding.
During Target’s trade-in events, you can bring your old, expired, or damaged car seat and receive a 20% coupon off one car seat, stroller, or other baby gear.
You must trade your car seat at Target stores. There will be drop-off boxes to accept customers’ car seats for recycling located near Guest Services. You must have a Target Circle account or the Target mobile app to receive your 20% off coupon. Check with your local Target store first to ensure they participate before bringing in a car seat to recycle. To find a participating store, click here.
Coupons can be applied to in-store and online purchases. You must be enrolled in Target Circle on your mobile device to participate in the trade-in and scan a coupon.
What Car Seats Are Accepted?
Target’s program accepts all kinds of car seats. These car seats include but are not limited to
In 2016, Target officially became the first retailer to hold a car seat trade-in event. After Target pushed the idea forward, many other retailers followed.
Walmart Car Seat Trade-in Program
In September 2019, National Baby Safety Month, Walmart collaborated with waste management company TerraCycle to create the country’s biggest car seat recycling event. Over 4,000 stores nationwide participated.
People who participated and traded any brand of car seat in-store received a $30 Walmart gift card.
The event was a massive success, so much so that it ended early due to the inability to accept the number of car seats received. The company collected over one million car seats in less than a week. According to TerraCycle, this is the equivalent of diverting over 200 million plastic bottles from landfills.
TerraCycle offers two recycling programs for baby products – including car seats.
TerraCycle and Century Baby Gear Free Recycling Program
TerraCycle currently partners with Century Baby Gear to provide a free recycling program. To participate, create an account with TerraCycle, pack your item in a box, print a shipping label, and send off your Century baby gear for recycling.
What Century Baby Gear Can I Recycle?
You can recycle any Century brand baby gear products, including car seats, high chairs, strollers, and playards.
What Do I Put in the Box?
Terra Cycle asks that you only put one product at a time in the box. The box should not exceed 96 inches in length and 130 inches in combined length and girth (Length + 2x Width + 2X Height). Please remove as much debris from the item as possible before packing it. Also, ensure that the product is dry before packaging. Do not send anything considered hazardous waste, as that will not be recycled.
You can send in car seats, booster seats, strollers, high chairs, bathtubs, play chairs, carriers, cribs, bassinets, play yards, training potties, walkers, bottles, pacifiers, teethers, playmats, sippy cups, plastic dishes, and small plastic toys. Click here for a complete list of acceptable items.
What Not To Put in the Box?
Do not put baby gear items that are NOT electric, electronic, or toys with batteries in the box. TerraCycle also does not take clothing either.
What Does TerraCycle Do With These Products?
TerraCycle cleans the items and separates the materials into types. Plastics and fabrics are recycled into raw materials that can be reused in new products. Metals are melted down and reused for new items.
Is There a Reward for Recycling?
TerraCycle offers a reward point program. You can earn 100 points per pound of recyclable material. Then you can contribute those points as a charitable monetary donation to your chosen non-profit organization or school.
TerraCycle Baby Gear Zero Waste Box Paid Recycling Program
TerraCycle will accept other brands of car seats and non-electronic baby gear. For this program, you order a Zero-Waste Box, fill it with accepted items, print the prepaid return label, stick it onto the box, and return it to TerraCycle. Check out the table below for the sizes of costs for each box type.
Small Zero-Waste Box (11” x11” x20”)
Medium Zero-Waste Box (1” x 11” x 40”)
arge Zero-Waste Box (15” x 15” 37”)
Clek’s Car Seat Trade-in Program
Another manufacturer that offers a car seat trade-in program is Clek.
With Clek, you can trade online any day of the year if you are willing to pay for the shipping. You can drop your package off at a local UPS store.
To start with Clek, you first need to buy a recycling return label, which costs $39.99 and can be purchased from their website. You should receive a confirmation email that includes the following:
- A UPS return shipping label for your car seat.
- A personal discount code that’s made out to the same value of $39.99 (You can use that discount on Clek’s website for future purchases).
Buy Buy Baby Car Seat Trade-in Program
With Buy Buy Baby’s trade-in program, you can take your used baby gear – which includes car seats – to your local Buy Buy Baby branch. You can do this during the designated trade-in period, which begins the first week of every month.
What is considered used?
All products you want to trade in to be recycled or resold need to be clean, in good condition, and can not have any defects, fabric tears, or damage. The item also needs to be fully functional. If you are considering bringing in a stroller, you must ensure that the brakes work, it opens and closes properly, and the straps function. All items must come with all the original parts.
What can I bring to a Buy Buy Baby store?
Buy Buy Baby accepts the following items:
- Playards and travel cribs
- High chairs
- Infant activity and loungers
- Strollers, wagons, and accessories
- Bassinets and changing pads
You can find a more detailed list on the company’s website.
How much will I get for my trade-in?
Once Good Buy Gear has received the item, you will immediately get a gift card in exchange for your trade-in.
You can find a detailed item and price list on Buybuybaby.com.
Car Seats and Environmental Concerns
Many people simply throw their expired car seats away, which creates more plastic being dumped into local landfills. With 12 million car seats sold each year, it is estimated that 29,6 million pounds of car seat material will go to landfill.
Luckily, many corporations are taking notice of the impact of the disposal of large amounts of plastics. They are stepping up to help with recycling programs. If we continue allowing all that plastic to wind up in our landfills, we will only exacerbate our environmental issues (source).
Many corporations that sell car seats have realized that stopping manufacturing and recycling those old car seats solves many problems. Corporations are lessening the impact of unnecessary environmental waste by encouraging people to avoid throwing away their car seats and offering rebates and coupons.
Encouraging Buyers Towards a Solution
People purchasing car seats must also become a part of the solution. While it takes some time and effort to dismantle a car seat, recycle it, or find the right trade-in program, it is certainly worth the effort. Buyers can save money on their next purchase of a car seat or other item for their child at particular stores by turning in an old car seat.
If you have an old car seat that’s no longer in use, don’t let it collect dust in your garage or end up in a landfill. Instead, consider trading it in, recycling it, or selling it. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll also be allowing another family to use a safe car seat for their child. Take action today and learn how to responsibly dispose of your old car seat while positively impacting our planet.
Now that you understand the value of trading in your car seat to help the environment, your family, and your wallet, you can choose any of the above stores to trade in your used seat or take it to TerraCycle to recycle it.
It is simple and easy, and the car seat does not have to expire to trade it in. There is also no limit on the number of car seats you can trade in; as long they meet the standards of wherever you take them, you can claim your gift card and do your good deed.
Are you wondering which car seat to buy now that you have recycled the old one? Why not check out our car seat reviews and make an informed choice?