Recycle old toys before the holidays

When children are in the mix, the festive season tends to come with toys attached, pre-packaged then wrapped and ready for gifting. So why not get ready for the newcomers ahead of time? You can recycle old, broken or loved-to-death toys for free through TerraCycle’s free toy recycling programs. 

All brands of old and broken toys can be recycled for free in Australia through BIG W Toys for Joy and PAW Patrol Toy Free Recycling Program. Both programs offer in-store drop off, so head to the program page to find your nearest location. PAW Patrol also allows you to download a shipping label and mail your toys to TerraCycle for recycling. In New Zealand, you can recycle toys using our Toys Zero Waste Box or at the Warehouse Group’s My Recycle Hub in Auckland.

Old teddy bear sitting on bed ready to be recycled.

Did you know toys can be recycled into things like plastic shipping pallets, agricultural film, decking, industrial pipes and playgrounds? Let’s learn more about the recycling process and how worn-out toys take on new shapes and sizes.

Our research and development team is made up of in-house scientists and material application specialists. They analyse materials and determine the best way to recycle toys into something new. 

Once your toys arrive at one of TerraCycle’s Material Recovery Facilities (MRF), the recycling process includes breaking down the waste, separating it into its building blocks, and then recycling those materials for new applications.  

1. First, we receive and check-in your toys. 
When you send a shipment to us to be recycled, either by dropping it off in store or by mail, we scan it to record the shipment information, date, weight and material it contains.

2. Then, we sort your toys and separate them by material.
The toys are sorted into categories based on material characteristics, composition and the mechanical process required to break them down. We sort and separate the materials using various technologies, including manual sortation, size separation, sink and float, optical, air density, magnetic and more.

3. Once sorted, materials are broken down into their building blocks. 
All materials are reduced through shredding. 

  • Metals are removed through magnetised and electrostatic sortation. Then, metals are melted into sheeting or bars. 
  • Plastics, which are the largest category of waste we recycle, are separated by type and then recycled into pellets. 
  • Wood materials are pulverised and used to make wood pellets. 

4. Finally, materials are recycled for new applications. 
Clean, sorted, and reformatted materials are mixed to make recycled blends. Manufacturers use these raw materials to create new products.

So what are you waiting for? Clean out the toy basket now and recycle what your kids no longer use – before the giving season arrives. Show them how their old or broken plastic toys are recycled into playgrounds, a frisbee or a beaded bracelet. Take the time to also explain how recycling responsibly helps to keep rubbish out of the environment.

Find out more about TerraCycle’s free toy recycling programs – which accept toys such as electronic learning toys, board games, action figures and more!

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