Clek: Leading the Way with Mail-in Recycling
If you’d like to spend your money on a car seat whose manufacturer is committed to social and environmental responsibility along with child passenger safety, check out Clek. Their seats are manufactured in Canada using primarily North American suppliers. Materials are chosen with both safety and the environment in mind, and do not contain chlorinated or brominated flame retardants. Clek actively contributes to programs that assist children in need. And, they recycle their car seats – making Clek the only car seat manufacturer that we know about that takes back their product when its useful life is complete.
Customers who purchase a Clek seat can mail it back to Clek when the seat is no longer usable. The customer must pay a $40 shipping charge. However, Clek offers a $40 voucher to the customer for the purchase of a new Clek seat. All Clek booster and car seats can be recycled, including Oobr, Olli, Ozzi, Foonf and Fllo.
As of April, 2015, Clek reports receiving approximately 1,000 car seats per year for recycling. They dismantle these seats onsite, hand-separating the materials to ensure that each is managed in the most appropriate manner. Currently, they are finding markets for every material they use except the harness strapping. The fabric covers are repurposed into pet beds. Metal, rigid plastic and expanded polypropylene foam are recycled.
Because the entire operation – from design to recycling – is based in North America and because Clek is paying its employees to dismantle the seats, we enquired to find out if the seat designers are speaking with the seat dismantlers to find out what changes could be made to simplify the dismantling process. Samantha Sampson, Marketing Manager at Clek, reports that those conversations have not happened…yet. “Design is focused on performance in a collision,” writes Sampson. “Recycling is not part of our design process at the moment.” However, she reports that designers do choose materials based in part on their recyclability.
Clek, whose recycling program has been in place since September, 2013, anticipates recycling many more seats in the future. Having started manufacturing car seats in 2007, many of their products have not yet reached the end of their useful lives and so have not required recycling. Clek car seats and booster seats do not expire for seven to nine years, which means that you can safely use them for more than one child to reduce the number of seats you must purchase before you recycle. (See our guidelines for safe reuse of car seats that have not expired nor been in an accident here.)
Clek is a company that seems to put children’s best interests first – from child safety to a healthy planet. Recycling is a key piece of this. However, their additional commitment to not using chlorinated or brominated flame retardants, manufacturing their products in North America, creating durable products that can be used for a long time, and showing leadership in the area of producer responsibility for their products should make their seats a top choice for environmentally-conscious families.