The Toy Story: Recyclability and Beyond!

The Toy Story: Recyclability and Beyond!

Plastics resource efficiency and recycling charity, RECOUP, has completed research into the recycling of hard plastic toys in the UK and highlighted some of the key issues with end uses of toys in its new report “Researching the Recyclability of Plastic Toys”.

The report demonstrates the challenges of recycling toys that are no longer used or broken. RECOUP has investigated the current infrastructure available within the UK for collecting and recycling toys and analysed a selection of toy samples to determine their recyclability.

The analysis involved breaking down the components of each toy to determine the materials used and assessing the key challenges of their recyclability, including kerbside recycling in the UK.  The report concluded that many toys contain electronic parts, including batteries, which makes them unsuitable for mechanical recycling.

Richard Cham, Senior Packaging Projects Officer comments: “Toys are frequently produced of multiple polymer types that are difficult to separate. Not to mention the dangers of electrical components and batteries, which are responsible for damages equalling £100 million annually from electrical fires in waste management sites in the UK.”

The report looks at the key challenges faced by the toy and recycling industries and how to address these with examples of current solutions used in alternate markets.  Toy take-back schemes such as home returns or front-of-store collections are examined, along with the potential pitfalls of a kerbside collection scheme.

Brands and retailers are designing for recyclability in a push to reduce waste and plastic pollution and RECOUP has released its ‘Recyclability by Design’ guidance to help food and drink brands achieve recyclability for their plastic packaging by promoting best practice. 

Kate Bedford,  Packaging Project Manager comments:  “There are very few guidelines available for the toy industry, meaning that designing for recyclability is open to interpretation with nobody really knowing if they are heading in the right direction.”

RECOUP aims to help toy manufacturers and designers to make better choices about materials and look towards the end-of-life journey of their products, by taking an in depth look at how the materials used can be reprocessed and recycled into new products.

To learn more about the Recyclability of Plastic Toys, RECOUP is holding a 30-minute webinar to summarise its key findings and welcomes all toy manufacturers, retailers, local authorities and waste management companies to join the FREE webinar on Tuesday 18th April at 10:30am.

Researching the Recyclability of Plastic Toys report is currently available to all RECOUP members via the RECOUP website.

To access Recyclability by Design report, go to the RECOUP website.

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