Although it is only January, the toy industry is already looking towards 25 December 2013. And little wonder, as it was estimated that parents are now spending on average a whopping £316 per child at Christmas!
Since there are only so many toys a child has time to play with, combined with ever changing fads and tastes, a lot of toys are left unwanted and unloved, especially after the festive season when, for example, the latest plush toy replaces that tatty old bear. The majority of unwanted, long redundant toys will be re-used; however, many of these will eventually end up in landfill, as currently there isn’t a formal recycling route in place for toys.
Historically, the primary focus of the toy industry has been on product safety, which means that there is definitely scope for more of a focus on environmental issues and programs.
Studies have been carried out which look into toy packaging, such as Valpak’s recent Toy Packaging Assessment. However, there has been little focus on actual toys and what happens to them after their appeal has gone.
There are some schemes in place which look to extend a toy’s life, such as toy swapping or renting; however, it appears that there is no national scheme for toy recycling, with limited options offered by local authorities. As the rigid plastics often found in toys are similar to those found in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), perhaps there is an opportunity for the recycling infrastructure to be shared?