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How do you recycle toys?

As creators of eco-friendly toys, it’s a question we get asked a lot – how do you recycle toys?

As most of us know and agree, donating, gifting or selling toys to others is the best option. But for those toys that have broken or missing pieces, or are just too well-worn to pass on, what’s the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of them?

I’ve done so much research into this, and I’m going to have to be honest - the answer isn’t great.

Pile of old toys

Can you recycle toys in kerbside recycling?

Unfortunately, in general no they can’t.

Why?

The tricky thing about toys is that they’re generally made from a mix of materials, for example:

  • blended plastics
  • a mix of wood and plastic
  • plastic with extra parts like batteries, magnets and bolts.

The mix of materials means the toys can’t be sorted by the machines at recycling facilities, and they end up being sent to landfill. Even 100% wooden toys often can’t be recycled because of the paints and varnishes they’re decorated with.

There are exceptions to this and it’s worth checking with your local council before throwing out any toys. In particular, the Victorian Government says they can accept some plastic toys in kerbside recycling – check this link for more information. But I think this will only apply to toys with no additional parts, so things like 100% plastic building blocks or LEGO.

Don’t despair!

There are a few options…

Check if there’s a recycling stamp on your plastic toys. There are some plastic toys (like ours!) that have been manufactured out of specific materials so that they can be recycled. They’ll have a recycling stamp on them, like the one below for HDPE, which is what our toys are made from. If you can’t find the information on the toy itself, check the packaging. If your toys have a recycling stamp on them, check with your local council for how they should be recycled.

HDPE

Care for toys so they can be re-used. I know, it’s not always easy (I get it, I have 3 boys!), but keeping toys in their best condition possible means they can be donated or sold and then re-used by many children over many years. Toys are generally extremely durable, so if they’re cared for, they should have a long life.

Take a look at this program from Terracycle. This is a great option that we’ve come across recently – you can order one of their boxes, and you fill it with old toys which they will then recycle into things like park benches and playground equipment. This is a fantastic initiative, and hopefully there will be more like it very soon.

What about Happy Planet Toys?

Our toys can most definitely go into the kerbside recycled bin. And as they’re made from 100% recycled milk bottles (as opposed to a blend of plastics), they can be recycled into other products another 9 more times. It’s all part of our mission to create toys which are as sustainable as possible.

Tilda the turtle on a recycling bin