Around nine in 10 child car seats end up in landfill sites, a practice which has been labelled as “scandalous”.
The Local Government Association (LGA) says around 2,000 tonnes worth of car seats, which are made from mostly recyclable material, are dumped at the sites.
An estimated 2.1 million child car seats are sold in the UK every year, while more than 250,000 reach their “safety expiry date” each year.
The seats have an average usable lifespan of between six and 10 years, based on the manufacturer’s advice, as the plastic elements can become weak and brittle.
The seats are not accepted or sold at councils’ recycling centre re-use shops because they could have been damaged in an accident, compromising safety.
They are also difficult to dismantle due to their mix of materials and complex structures.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, has urged manufacturers to recycle their own child car seats and allow parents to return the product at the end of its life.
Retailers are also being called on to offer take-back services, as well as trade-in incentives for parents looking to buy a new seat to meet child-related age and height laws.
LGA environment spokesperson Councillor David Renard said: “Having to treat child car seats as waste is scandalous and is extremely frustrating for councils and parents who want to dispose of these seats responsibly.
“Child car seats are likely to be around for a very long time and we want to work with the government and manufacturers to achieve a viable, long-term solution to recycling them.”