Introducing Sustainable Barbie? 5 Ways To Recycle Your Toys | BPF Blog

Trying to avoid advertising for the upcoming Barbie movie is like trying to avoid Mariah Carey’s music at Christmas, and with 58 million Barbie Dolls already sold every year (which is around 100 a minute), the film is sure to make those numbers even higher. So, when childhood best friends become outgrown, can we recycle them? And if so, how?

Are Toys Recyclable?

The short answer is ‘it depends on the toy’. Lego, for instance, is made of ABS plastic, which can be recycled with the rest of your household plastic. However, most toys are made of ‘hard plastic’, which can’t be recycled in the same way as your plastic bottles, pots, and packaging – so they shouldn’t be put in your home recycling. But with that said… you’ve still got plenty of options to keep Barbie above ground.

1. Toys 4 Life will take all your good quality, reusable toys off your hands for free, donate to a charity you choose, and then direct your toys to third-world countries to be enjoyed by families who will give them a second life.

All you need to do is fill a box, choose the charity you wish them to pay the £200 per tonne to, and drop your box off at your nearest collect plus store. They accept plastic, soft, and wooden toys, as well as lego, and musical/battery-operated toys, making them the perfect second home for any good-quality unwanted toys.

2. Charity Shops

Or – still requiring the toys to be in good condition – channel your inner Toy Story and donate them to charity shops or a local community group, which helps to raise funds for hugely important charities while letting your childhood friends have a second chance at life.

Oxfam specifically urges people to donate their used toys, even creating a ‘gift aid’ service which raises an extra 25% for the charity and no extra cost to you. The British Heart Foundation also have handy drop points at every shop, making turning your unwanted toys and games into lifesavers as easy as possible. And several charities such as iCollectClothes will even collect them from your doorstep.

You can find your local charity shops here.

But unfortunately, as we all know, dolls don’t often make it out of childhood in a good enough condition to donate. Whether they’ve had one too many reconstructive surgeries, extreme haircuts, or missing limbs… there are still plenty of options to keep them out of landfill.

3. Mattel PlayBack

Mattel PlayBack has made parents a guilt-free solution for toys that have reached the end of their useful life – instead, putting valuable materials back into play and out of landfills so that the fun comes full circle. They recover and reuse materials from old Mattel toys for future Mattel products, supporting the company’s goal for 100% recycled plastic materials by 2030.

Simply visit, print your free shipping label, and send all your outgrown Mattel toys back to the source.

Currently accepting Barbie®, Fisher-Price®, Matchbox® and MEGA™ toys, and available in the United States, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom… they’ll recover the materials to be reused as recycled content in new products where possible, and downcycle those materials into other plastic products or convert them from waste to energy if they’re not.

4. Recycling Centre

Some Recycling Centres accept toys and games for recycling, but it is best to check first – use our recycling locator tool or head on over to LondonRecycle’s services at a glance area, find your borough, and scroll down to the map at the bottom of the page.

Undamaged soft toys (like teddy bears) can be deposited alongside textiles at some textile clothing banks (you can find these in many supermarket car parks), and non-electronic toys and games (like board games, metal/plastic/wood toys, action figures, dolls) can be recycled via TerraCycle public drop-off locations.

5. Resell

Another great option, whenever you have some spare time on your hands, is to resell your toys. Apps like Vinted and Depop make it incredibly easy, or the timeless eBay is still hugely popular. There’s a step-by-step guide of how to start selling on eBay: here.

The best steps to follow when reselling your toys are 1) find out if your toys are collector’s items (give the toy a quick google and make sure you price it fairly – some tin toys and porcelain dolls go for thousands of pounds!) 2) describe your toys carefully and enthusiastically, being honest about any marks or scratches, and 3) make sure to take several nice (clear) photos of your toys and upload them all. Happy selling!

So, whether you’re clearing out your cupboards and need some extra space, or a parent of a child who’s received three of the same toy for their birthday… let’s rehome, resell, or recycle our toys and bring joy to another child (or adult) somewhere else across the world.

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