PLATTSBURGH - The plastic from old car seats will now take on a new life.
During a press conference held at the Sheriff's Department Aug. 2, Clinton County Sheriff David Favro announced that car seats collected at car seat safety checks because they've been recalled or do not meet safety standards will now be recycled.
"It's a very exciting announcement," Favro said, "especially in the times that we are right now, with recycling being a big concern and with what's happening to our resources throughout the country."
"It's always nice when local programs can have a big impact in efforts of recycling and preserving our natural resources for our future," he added.
The Clinton County Child Safety program, which has been in existence for nearly two decades, previously sent nearly 200 unusable car seats to the landfill each year, where they will remain for an estimated 400 years.
However, after receiving an anonymous phone call from a mother last year, who was adamant something useful be done with the car seats, Traffic Safety Coordinator Mitch Carriere began investigating.
"We are sending them to a local plastic company in Plattsburgh," Carriere said.
Beginning this past January, the Sheriff's Department began stripping down the car seats, removing all padding and metal, then sending them to a dock at IntraPac Inc., a local manufacturer of plastic packaging.
"We recycle about 90 percent of the product that we manufacture," explained Robert Blankenheim, vice president of operations and general manager of Plattsburgh's IntraPac. "Any defects or scrap, we recycle it. Very limited product goes to the local landfill."
After being sent to IntraPac, the plastic is then shipped, at no cost, to K&B Plastics in Blodgett Mills, where the recycled plastic from about 22 car seats can be manufactured into 20 foot culvert pipes.
"We're still burying the child safety seats," said Favro. "However, now they're going to take on a new life, as the form of a drain pipe underground. Not having to generate or use petroleum to create an additional plastic product, but utilize something that is no longer a value to society."
This is good news for Craig Squier, general manager of the Clinton County Landfill. "I think this demonstrates a great initiative on the part of the Sheriff's Department with finding an alternative way to dispose of a viable, recyclable product," he said. "We're already starting to develop some future plans for expanding this project to perhaps county residents in the future."
Squier said the overall capacity of the county landfill will be improved without the thousands of car seats being deposited there.
According to a survey sent out by the Sheriff's Department to other departments in the state, Clinton County appears to be the only county in the state to have a recycling program of this nature.
Currently the parts removed from the car seats before being shipped to IntraPac have yet to find a way to be recycled, but Favro said, "if there is any avenue to be able to recycle it, we will do so."
There will be a child car seat inspection this Saturday, Aug. 7 at the AAA office on Booth Drive and another Sept. 25 at the Saranac Fire Department on Pickets Corners.