Toys are a $20.36 billion a year industry and this keeps escalating every year! While this may be good for business, toys are among the worst offenders to the environment! They fill a significant portion of our rubbish removal landfills. More than ninety percent of the toys sold today are made largely of plastic. Even worse, plastic toys have a far shorter average lifespan than most plastic household items. Very few plastic toys manufactured today make it past a few weeks before they break or the children lose interest.
If you are accustomed to recycling plastic beverage bottles and other household plastics in your rubbish removal, you may automatically assume that plastic toys can be just as easily recycled. However, nothing could be further from the truth! What many people don't realize is that many, if not most, plastic toys cannot be easily recycled.
There are three main reasons for this:
1. The plastics used in toy making are often mixed with other materials such as metal or wood that are difficult and expensive to remove from the plastic parts of the toy. Thus, they end up at the landfill instead!
2. The type of plastics that most toys are made from are not accepted at many recycling centers! To determine the type of plastic, look for a triangular symbol on the bottom with a number inside it. The most easily recycled plastic are numbers one and two, PET and HDPE, polyethylene terephthalate and high-density polyethylene. However, plastic toys are usually made from numbers three and four, PVC and LDPE, polyethylene terephthalate and low-density polyethylene.
3. Many plastic toys are composed of more than one type of plastic that must be separated before the individual components can be recycled.
The good news is it looks like more recycling centers in the UK and elsewhere are working toward accepting more types of plastic. However, the bad news is this is more than five years away from happening and most toys are made from the type of plastic most recycling centers don't accept. So, in the interim and long-term, how can be recycled more toys and keep them out of the rubbish removal thrown in landfills.
Here are some ideas:
1. Buy "Legacy Toys" That Can Be Passed Down
The best way to make sure toys don't go to the landfill from the rubbish removal bin is to buy high-quality toys that are built to last! This way, when the kids get tired of playing with them, they can be stored away for the next tiny tot to come along in the family. Many toys made from sustainable wood, sustainable organic fibers, sustainable natural rubber, and sustainable metal are built to last for decades, even centuries. Children LOVE to hear stories about when their mom, dad, or other beloved family members playing with the same toys they are playing with when they were little. They will bond with those toys instantly because of that family connection.
2. Take Your Electronic Toys To WEEE Recycling Centers (for free!)
Electronic toys, i.e. any toy that runs on batteries or needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet, is classified as WEEE and must be recycled in a special way. WEEE stands for "Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment" and there are free WEEE recycling centers all over the UK. Also, if you live in one of the seven north London boroughs (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, or Waltham Forest), you can call Clearabee for a free curbside WEEE rubbish removal collection. Either way, by making sure your electronic toy gets to a WEEE recycling center specifically, you'll ensure it gets broken down properly and as many parts recycled as can be.
3. Give Your Used Toys To an Organization That Will Be Glad To Get Them
Childrens' hospitals, hospice centers, charities, libraries, community centers, daycare centers, schools, and many other places are very grateful to get donations of used toys. You could also save them up until you see a jumble sale with a worthy cause you care about.
They do not accept used toys but they do help people find places that do!
4. Schedule a Rubbish Removal Booking With Clearabee
While many recycling centers will not accept plastic toys, a few do, and Clearabee will make the extra effort to get your plastic toys to these recycling centers and also to places where the toys can go to resale shops. Please note that Clearabee is a private on-demand rubbish removal business. The UK councils do not put in the same effort as Clearabee to take discarded toys to places that will recycle and or reuse them. When you call Clearabee for a booking, it will make things easier if you can separate out the toys so the Clearabee guys will be sure to note they are toys and not other household items.