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The Australian Toy Studio

What Toys Can Be Recycled? How to Recycle Plastic Toys

As a kid one of the most exciting experiences was receiving new toys and playing with them. The joy and excitement of unboxing and playing with that new toy is something that most people will never forget. But what should parents do with old toys that are no longer used?

Donating and Reusing

Before thinking about recycling or disposing of toys, you should consider donating the toys. After all, reusing comes before recycling in Reduce Reuse Recycle.

Only functional and safe toys should ever be donated to someone else. If there are any safety issues then the toys should be disposed of appropriately.

There are several people and organisations that accept donations. Besides friends and family, some locations you should consider donating to include:

  • Child care centres
  • Family shelters
  • Op shops such as Vinnies, Lifeline, or Salvos
  • Local Facebook Buy Swap Sell groups
  • Gumtree

Why Recycling Toys is Difficult

If you have toys that are unsafe and cannot be donated or reused then you should dispose of them appropriately. The problem with recycling toys is that they are usually made from several different materials such as plastics, metal, and wood.

In order to recycle any material it the material must be separated from different materials during the recycling process. For composite items such as toys it is difficult to separate the materials which makes recycling toys very difficult.

Wooden toys

Even 100% pure wooden toys often can not be recycled because of varnishes and paints that have been used. Your best option is to contact your local council and they will be able to provide clear advice.

Metal toys

Metal recycling is typically much easier than plastic recycling because magnets can be used to separate metallic materials from the waste stream. If you are disposing of toys that are pure metal it should be fine to just pop them in your recycling bin.


You should never put batteries of any form into recycling or general waste bins. Most supermarkets and councils have dedicated battery recycling bins where you can safely and ethically dispose of batteries.

Plastic Toys

Plastic recycling is one of the most difficult forms of recycling because of the variety of different plastics. Hard, soft, brittle, and stretchy plastics need to be separated at the recycling plant before they can be recycled.

Plastic toys are often made of several different types of plastics which makes recycling them very difficult. Many new toys are now being manufactured so that they can be easily recycled.

Check the bottom of the toy or its packaging to see if there are any recycling symbols. There might even be instructions on how to recycle the toy.

Recycling Symbols

All recyclable products have a recycling symbol.

Image displaying the different types of plastic recycling symbols.
1. PET
3. PVC
5. PP
6. PS
7. Other

If your toy has any of the following symbols then it is likely recyclable. Check with your local council what types of plastics they accept for recycling. Some councils accept all types of plastic, while some only accept hard plastics.

Other Recycling Options

If you can’t reuse or easily recycle your toys then there is another option. Terracycle provide a Zero Waste Recycling Box.

They will recycle any type of material including electronic toys (except batteries).

Just remove any batteries, pop your old toys in and they’ll be recycled with zero waste!

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