When kids are part of the story, the holidays often include toys with lots of packaging, wrapped and ready to be gifted. So before the season of giving arrives, why not recycle well-loved toys that can’t be donated with TerraCycle’s free toy recycling programs?  

Did you know that toys can be recycled into things like plastic shipping pallets, agricultural film, decking, industrial drainpipes, playgrounds—and even our collection of TerraCycle Made products available in the United States?

Let’s learn more about the recycling process and how old toys take on new shapes and sizes:

Our research & development team is made up of in-house scientists and material application specialists, they analyze 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 how to break down the waste, separate it into its building blocks, and then recycle those materials for new applications.  

1. First, we receive and check-in your toys. 

When you send a shipment to us to be recycled, 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 magnetized 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 pulverized 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.

Clean out the toy bin now and recycle what your kids no longer use as the holiday season approaches this year. Show them how their plastics are recycled into playgrounds, a flying disc, or a beaded bracelet. Get started now with many TerraCycle free toy recycling programs—which accept toys such as electronic learning toys, board games, and action figures!

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