by Joni Astrup
A local program has seen some success recycling car seats.
There were 290 car seats collected locally in 2013 — the equivalent of 2,610 pounds of trash, according to Mark Lees, community health coordinator for Sherburne County.
Lees said they work with the Recycling Association of Minnesota to take apart the car seats so the components can be recycled.
RAM contracts the work to a vocational center which employs people with disabilities, according to Maggie Mattacola, director of RAM.
About 95 percent of the car seat is recycled, including all the metal, plastic and car seat straps. Only the fabric is not recycled, she said.
The metal and plastic go to local recycling markets. The car seat straps are sold to an artist who creates belts and other accessories from them, she said.
Mattacola said RAM has been recycling car seats since 2011. It recycled 182 at an event that year.
In 2012, 973 car seats were collected for recycling, bringing the total number of car seats recycled through the program as of September 2013 to more than 2,250 car seats.
She said program is one of the only one of its kind in the nation.
Locally, Lees said the car seat recycling program received a grant in the past, but is a line item in Sherburne County’s budget this year. The goal is to recycle 400 seats in 2014, he said.
There is no charge to recycle a car seat locally. The car seats may be dropped off at one of two locations:
•Elk River maintenance facility, 19000 Proctor Road, Elk River; 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
•Sherburne County Government Center, 13880 Business Center Dr., Elk River; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.