Launched a toy recycling program as a partner of Big W and TerraCycle to reduce plastics in landfills

Danica Hensel, mother of two, has a box of toys at home that her children no longer play with.

“Once they lost interest, they lost interest,” she said.

“And when they’re so old that you can’t give them to anyone else, you normally have no choice but to get rid of them by going to the landfill.”

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said nearly 27 million toys are thrown away by Australians each year.

“Anything that goes to landfill is wasted,” she said.

“Micro-plastics are contaminating the environment, they are contaminating our ocean, and more importantly, we are not using something that was created that could be re-made, reused, and reused.”

Danica Hensel with her two children Logan [6] and Lily [2].(ABC Goulburn Murray: Mikaela Ortolan)

Jean Bailliard, Australian managing director of recycling company TerraCycle, said the vast majority ended up in landfill because it was “too complex” to be accepted in curbside recycling bins.

“They are made of different materials such as rubber, metal parts, electronic components,” he said.

He added that the toys could take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

Recycling solutions

TerraCyle has partnered with department chain Big W to reduce the number of toys that end up in landfill, with a new program to roll out across the country.

This meant families could drop unwanted toys of any brand into a collection bin at Big W, which were then sent to TerraCycle for processing.

Big W chief executive Pejman Okhovat said the chain of departments previously conducted a study into what happened to the toys.

“Parents don’t really have a good, sustainable way they can deal with these oversized, oversized, pre-loved toys,” he said.

Busy hands play with a toy in a daycare center.
All types of toys can be placed in recycling bins.(ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

A collection bin was tested in-store and in the first 12 months 18 tonnes of old toys were collected, highlighting the demand for better recycling solutions.

“Customers have become much more aware of environmental issues,” Mr. Okhovat said.

“Everyone wants to live a greener life.”

Ms Ley, the minister responsible for the government’s National Waste Policy Action Plan, joined representatives of the two companies to launch their collection bins in Albury in her Farrer constituency today.

a woman and three men stand in front of the green bin in the middle of the W department store
Minister Ley with Jean Bailliard and Pejman Okhovat for the launch of the Albury collection.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Mikaela Ortolan)

From toys to playgrounds

Mr Bailliard said the toys would be manually separated for recycling.

“We then take the plastic and shred it into a raw format,” he said.

This raw material was then used by product manufacturers to create new products.

“We created a playground out of collected toys,” he said.

Bailliard said more manufacturers and waste management companies should work together to develop waste management solutions.

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