Are Toys Garbage Or Recyclable? (How To Tell)

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 11:01 pm

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Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 11:01 pm

Kids will inevitably outgrow their toys. So how do you proceed when you need to dispose of the toys your child doesn’t want to play with anymore? 

Do you throw them in the garbage, or can you recycle them? Responsible disposal and recycling can be challenging to navigate. 

However, this article should shed some light on how to proceed.  

So are toys garbage or recyclable? And how do you tell? 

Well, the answer is both yes and no. You see, not everything that is made from plastic is recyclable.

Most toys are made from a mixture of different materials, such as various types of plastic, metals, wood, and electronics, so they tend to be considered garbage. However you can recycle old toys by donating them to kids or charities. 

If you don’t want to throw away the toys and they are too dirty or broken to give away you’ll have to break them apart yourself so you can recycle them. 

This means separating the different materials and throwing the recyclable materials in the recycle bin. Recycling can also work if the toy is broken or damaged beyond reuse.

Which Toy Parts Do Not Belong In A Recycle Bin? 

Before we delve into the main topic of discussion, let’s take a look at the toys or toy parts that don’t belong in your local recycle bin. 

You might be surprised by what recycling plants can and can’t handle.

Paper Materials That Can’t be Recycled

Paper is generally recyclable, but it cannot be recycled once it’s been contaminated with organic matter such as oil, food, grease, or animal waste.  This is because the recycling process won’t be able to process these organic materials properly, resulting in worthless recycled material. 

So if the toy you purchased came in a cardboard box, avoid cross-contamination before you throw it in the recycle bin.

Dirty Plastic Or Glass Items

While these materials are recyclable, throwing them in the recycling bin once they are contaminated by organic matter renders the process useless. 

Often toys will be made of plastic but will also have other parts that aren’t plastic or recyclable. So you have to dismantle your plastic toys entirely if you want to recycle them. 

To avoid wasting the resources of your local recycling plant, take a few minutes to clean off your glass and plastic containers before putting them in your recycling bin or separate the recyclable and non recyclable materials. 

Electronics And Batteries

Many toys come with electronic components and batteries these days. While the rest of the toy could contain recyclable material, these electronic components do not belong in the recycle bin. 

Lithium-ion batteries can be hazardous if thrown in the recycle bin. 

Some recycling plants have even experienced explosions while handling materials that contained these batteries. So whatever you do, don’t throw that old battery-operated toy in the recycle bin with all its components intact.

Now that our educational detour is done let’s see whether toys belong in the recycle bin or in the garbage.

Are Plastic Toys Recyclable?

Recycling plastic toys is extremely difficult for the average household. The main issue is trying to identify which type of plastic the toy is made from. 

Most plastic toys are made with some form of Polyethylene which is a hard type of plastic. You will be hard-pressed to find a curbside recycling company or a municipal program that recycles this type of plastic.

So if your kid’s toy is made from this kind of plastic, it will most likely end up in an incinerator or a landfill.

How do you know if a toy is recyclable or not?

An excellent way to tell if a toy is recyclable or not is to check with the toy manufacturer. Most toy companies these days have a recycling program for their products. 

So before you toss an unused toy in the garbage, find out from the manufacturer. 

This information is usually readily available on their website, or you can find out from their customer service department.

Another way to know if a toy is recyclable or not is to check whether it has a recycling symbol printed somewhere on the surface of the toy. 

The recycling symbols will usually have numbers 1, 2, 3,4,5,6,7 stamped in the center of a triangle.

It can be easy to miss, but these numbers are extremely important. They act as an ID number called a resin identification code used to help recycling companies and programs sort out different materials. 

The numbers also help the recycling plants to determine which items they will accept and which ones they will toss in the garbage.

This is another way you can tell if a toy will be accepted for recycling. A simple google search will help you identify local recyclers and what type of plastic they accept

Can You Recycle Metal Toys?

Metal toys or the metal components of toys are the easiest to recycle. There are thousands of scrap yards that will accept and recycle various types of metal items. However, just make sure you contact your local recycler ahead of time to make sure that they accept metal. 

Like we’ve mentioned before, if the toy is not made from 100% metal, you’ll need to separate the materials yourself, especially if it’s mixed with non-recyclable materials.

Are Electronic Toys Recyclable Or Garbage?

These types of toys are pretty tricky because they are often combined with several materials. Electric components like circuit boards and cables can be recycled. 

However, lithium-ion batteries and other forms of batteries are hazardous and might not be accepted.

You will have to separate the materials and send them in separately. Again, it’s best to contact your local plants to see if they’ll take your electronic components.

Can You Recycle Wooden Toys?

Wood is the most durable type of material, and it’s best to give away a wooden toy rather than throw it in the recycle or trash bin. If this is not an option, you can recycle wooden toys if they are damaged beyond use. 

Bear in mind, however, that your recycling options will depend on the finishing that was used to treat the toy.

For example, if the toy has an all-natural wood stain, you may be able to dispose of it via recycling. If, however, it has been painted, you might have to throw it away in the garbage as most recycling programs won’t accept it for composting.  

Is Plastic Packaging From Toys Recyclable? 

As with the toys themselves, toy and gift packaging can be made from different materials such as paper, cardboard, and plastic. This means you can recycle some materials, but you will need to separate them. 

Hard plastic packaging used to protect toys within corrugated cardboard or boxboard box are accepted in most recycling programs.

Plastics marked PET or PETE can be recycled; however, please double check first before you toss them in the recycle bin. 

Be mindful that wire ties are not usually recyclable, so it’s either you reuse them or toss them.

Should You Reuse Toys Instead Of Throwing Them Away?

Recycling is not a perfect solution because it’s quite challenging to make new toys out of recycled plastics. Because of the nature of the recycling process, plastics made of different compositions and chemicals are mixed together.

This makes it hard to use recycled plastics to create new toys because they could contain several forbidden chemicals for use in toy making.

There are better alternatives. 

You could give the toy away, sell it or consider reusing it with younger children. 

So instead of throwing away a perfectly good toy in the recycle bin, you can donate it at your local church, orphanage, or shelter. 

You can also make a few bucks by having a garage sale or selling the toys on online sites like Facebook marketplace. 

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 11:01 pm

Matthew R

Hi, My name is Matt and I am all about toys! When trying to find accurate information online about toys I was finding it difficult so I decided to make this site.

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