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Old Toys Turned New

Date: 25-Jun-13

Toy Recycling - Kids © Jess McCallum

From the outside, it looks like any industrial warehouse, but what's happening on the inside is more like Santa's workshop. It's next door to the local tip but nothing goes to landfill here! It's the operating headquarters for the Peninsula Senior Citizens Toy Repair Group. And it's here that old toys are turned new again.

We recently spoke to one of the members of the group, Mr Terry Cook, who gave us an inside look at the fantastic work the group is doing for local children and the environment. Here's a peek at the Q&A we had with Terry.

Who started Peninsula Senior Citizens Toy Repair Group and why?

Peninsula Senior Citizens Toy Repair Group was started way back in 1975 by a kind group of 4 like-minded men who shared the idea that if the many old toys going to landfill were able to be restored, they would bring so much joy to needy children.

Today, there are now 30 of us contributing to the recycling of pre-loved toys, and the original objectives of the group still stand. We operate with the aims of: creating an organisation that can be of great benefit in the local area; recycling toys, thereby permitting money to be saved and used for other essential needs; bringing joy and pleasure to under privileged children; and providing a productive and enjoyable activity for local Senior Citizens.

We're all retirees from a diverse variety of jobs and careers - so we're kind of recycling ourselves!

Where can toys be dropped off?

We are very grateful to receive pre-loved toys from the community. Anyone who is interested in contributing can drop off their old toys at libraries along Sydney's Northern Beaches (Manly, Dee Why, and Mona Vale) or to our facility at the Toy Recycling Area at Kimbriki Tip.

The most popular toys the group collect are fancy dress clothing items, early learning toys and games, educational puzzles, board games, musical instruments and dolls, but we are very grateful of any donations the community can make to us. We're a handy bunch of people!

Where are the toys repaired?

All the toys are repaired at our Toy Recycling Workshop at the Kimbriki Tip. All our members are retired and have adopted their own roles at the group. Some of the ladies work on repairing dolls, dress-up clothes and jigsaws, and other members use their handy skills to repair bikes, electronic toys, games and cots (among other items). We meet on Wednesdays at the workshop and fix what we've got in stock at the time. There's usually a cup of tea involved, too!

What happens to the toys after you've repaired them, and what would have happened to them if they hadn't come to you?

All the toys go to charities and organisations supporting children in need, children with special needs and socially disadvantaged children. We feel all or most of these toys would end up in landfill if they didn't come to us.

Four times a year we have a distribution day when all our registered recipients are invited to come and take the recycled toys and games, free of charge. Over the years it is estimated that we have given away well over 100,000 games, dolls, bikes and many other great children's toys. It's fantastic.

Why do you think it's important to reuse and recycle?

Reusing and recycling toys saves organisations and charities many hundreds of dollars, allowing them to focus on resourcing the other essential components of their operations. Our group also gets a lot of satisfaction out of being able to save these toys going to landfill, and seeing the joy it gives to children makes our job really worthwhile.

What would your advice be for others interested in setting up other toy repair groups in other areas of the country?

It has certainly been gradual process, and we greatly appreciate the generosity of Clubs Australia, local councils, government grants and other organisations that enable us to operate. As it is a formal facility, we must adhere to all formal council inspections to make it a safe environment.

More information

For more information on Peninsula Senior Citizens Toy Repair Group and how you can donate your pre-loved toys, please visit their listing on

Second Chance Toys N.S.W. Incorporated is another community initiative that rescues and recycles gently used plastic toys and donates them to children in need. The program began in the St George region of Sydney with collections organised through local schools, community groups and individuals. Second Chance Toys is now organising larger collections through corporate staff and community toy drives, increasing collections and deliveries to organisations and children across Sydney and beyond. For further information on this organisation, please visit the Second Chance Toys website.

Even if you don't have a toy recycling program in your area, there are other ways to keep good quality used toys out of landfill. Check out the Reuse Hub on RecyclingNearYou for charity, community and on-line ideas.

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