Recycling broken toys

Hi Everyone,

I am in search of an earth-friendly, cheap option for disposing or recycling broken toys, or toys with missing components. These are toys that we would not be able to or want to donate because they are essentially unusable or broken beyond repair. I have checked out Terracycle but they are cost prohibitive and do not currently have programs for general nonspecifically branded toys. If there are any parents out there who would be willing to join with me, I am open to that as well. Thanks in advance for any leads, advice or wanting to join in the recycling and saving the earth from microplastics!

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

RE: Recycling broken toys ()

I'm so glad that you're asking this question! I, too, am concerned about this same exact issue. I have some friends who live in North Berkeley and they've told me about a perfect place to check out. It's the El Cerrito recycling center at 7501 Schmidt Lane. Apparently, there's a section where folks put out random freebies - books, games, household items, toys, etc. I believe that toys that are missing certain components might be able to be re-purposed there. I imagine that artists probably scour that spot often for "found art" pieces to use in sculptures, collages, etc. I've been struggling with the same issue for years now. My wife thinks I've just become a freakish "hoarder" (possibly partly true), since I have random bags and boxes of items our kids want to be discarded but I can't bear to add to the landfill! Such a difficult situation. I wish I had never allowed us to go down this terible path of allowing millions of little plastic toys into our lives... This has been my biggest regret on this parenting journey, for sure!


RE: Recycling broken toys ()

Very glad that you're thinking about this, Terri. You might call the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, and see if they'll accept such toys, or if they have ideas about what you could do with them:

A long shot is Mark Olivier, the Berkeley guy who makes garden art and installations from a wide, wide range of recycled found objects. His Web site seems to be down, but there's information here:  (If you live in or near Berkeley, it's just a fun place to visit, especially with kids.

RE: Recycling broken toys ()

This is the $5M question of parenting, right? I do wish I had a solid gold answer for you, but I don't. As you found, TerraCycle is awesome in the amount of programs it offers, but none for a mixed-brands of toys. Sigh. Have you tried posting to FreeCycle or do you belong to a local "chapter" of Buy Nothing (via Facebook)? I've not had a lot of luck in giving away broken toys or ones w/ missing parts on my local page, "Buy Nothing Alameda", but maybe you'd do better? Another option is East Bay Center for Creative Reuse, on Shattuck btwn 46th and 47th: It seems they're now taking donations again. Yay! Though they don't specify what they take, so a trip there may be in vain.

I'm also looking for a non-cost-prohibitive way to recycle our family's broken/worn-out sports gear. Terra Cycle has a program, but it's $$. If you also have stuff to contribute, let's band together! And please reach out if you get any good ideas or ways we can collaborate on toy recycling. TY for caring for our planet. You're not alone. 

RE: Recycling broken toys ()

One solution is to sell it cheaply on Ebay as incomplete - for spare/replacement parts.   It's a bit labor intensive, and I think it will work better for toys from major brands.   I have bought spare parts this way and appreciate those sellers who make it possible.