Big W launches new feature that parents will love

Decluttering your home is about to get a little easier thanks to a new initiative from Big W.

After a successful trial period, the discount retailer will be installing Toys For Joy recycling bins in every store across Australia, allowing parents to dispose of old, broken or unwanted toys in a more environmentally friendly way.

It means that the mountain of toys our kids manage to accumulate can now be broken down and given new life as something like play equipment for kids in communities in need, rather than ending up in landfill.

two kids putting broken toys into a recycling bin at big w
You can now recycle your old and broken toys at any Big W across Australia. Photo: TerraCycle

Giving old toys new life

Sadly, landfill is where many of the toys cluttering up our homes end up as the majority can't be chucked into regular kerbside recycling bins and, of course, anything broken or damaged by a little too much love can’t be donated to another home.

It's estimated that a whopping 26.8 million toys are thrown out every year in Australia, and the hope is that through this first-of-it's-kind recycling program, Big W and its recycling partner TerraCycle, can help redirect some of that waste.

Big W has been trialling the Toys For Joy initiative in select stores over the past 12 months and has already managed to save 18 tonnes worth of toys, some of which was used to create a children's playground.

"We are committed to reducing landfill and helping to make new, fun things for kids and communities to enjoy," Big W's Managing Director, Pejman Okhovat, said in a statement, "Our first project was a children’s playground in a school in the western suburbs of Sydney and we have new initiatives in the pipeline to help communities that need it most."


hand playing with a metal toy car
Plush, metal and electronic toys are all accepted, just take any batteries out first. Photo: Getty (Dimitri Otis via Getty Images)

Once left in the bins, the used toys are broken down and all metal and aluminium components are shredded and smelted to be turned into things like metal sheeting or bar stock, which can then be reused for a whole variety of purposes.

The plastic parts are ground down, melted and then reformed for reuse, while the natural fibres are given a second life as insulation or product stuffing.

What you can and can't donate

As with any type of recycling, there are rules when it comes to what you can and can’t pop into the bins.

Plastic, metal, plush and electronic toys of any brand are accepted, however there are a few exceptions.

You must remove all batteries from battery-powered toys and recycle them separately, and nothing oversized like bikes, scooters, and toy soccer goals can be donated.

All art supplies like pencils, paint and crayons, won't be accepted, and neither will books, board games, wooden toys or Play-Doh.

Small child holding a brown teddy bear by the ear
The recycling program is to help keep broken toys out of landfill, if the toys are still in good condition, they're better off being donated to other children. Photo: Getty (Catherine Falls Commercial via Getty Images)

No cleaning required

If your used toys are in good condition but your kids have just grown out (or tired) of them, donating them to another family is still the best option as everything left in the bins will be recycled rather than reused.

Unlike during the initial trial period, collected toys that are still in working condition will not be donated to families in need. The bins are, however, a great choice for toys that are broken, and you don't have to clean toys before dropping them into the bins, just make sure they're not wet.

The Toys For Joy initiative is being launched in all of Big W’s 176 stores across Australia, so to participate, you just have to drop your broken toys into the green recycling bins at your nearest store.

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