How to recycle LEGO: can you stick it in the recycling bin and what else can you do with old bricks?

Knowing how to recycle LEGO is essential for families looking to declutter their toy stash and free up some space

Pile of coloured LEGO bricks
(Image credit: Alamy)

Wondering how to recycle LEGO? You're not alone. LEGO is an incredibly popular toy for children and adults alike, so it's no wonder families can accumulate a huge amount of LEGO in the blink of an eye. 

Ever since LEGO was invented, it's become a firm favourite in households throughout the world, with families nabbing cheap LEGO whenever they can. But with some of the pieces being quite small, and some LEGO sets containing thousands of pieces, any parent (or partner) of a LEGO-fanatic knows that LEGO needs proper storage to prevent the pieces from getting everywhere. (Although if you do find it gets everywhere in your home, try this mum's genius hack for picking up LEGO).

If you're in the market for some new LEGO, you might be ready to clear out some old LEGO to make space, but can you recycle LEGO and what's the best way to go about it?

How to recycle LEGO

How you recycle LEGO will depend on where you live. While the US LEGO website states that you can just pop unwanted LEGO in with your other plastic household waste to be recycled, that's not the case if you live in the UK as LEGO is not currently recyclable.

As online LEGO brick selling service WeBuyBricks explains: "LEGO is famous for being sturdy and durable. While these are great qualities for a toy to have, they’re not so great when it comes to recycling.

"LEGO is made up of 20 different types of plastic, 80% being ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene). ABS is what gives LEGO its strength and is generally very difficult to recycle."

So if you have LEGO that is still in a usable condition, then it's best to find an alternative option rather than binning it and it ending up in landfill, such as selling it on or donating it. 

What to do with old LEGO

If you have old LEGO that is still in good condition, there are a number of things you can do to extend its lifespan.

  1. Donate it to charity. You could take it to your local charity shop or bag it up pop it in one of the charity carrier bags that often get popped through the letterbox.
  2. Give it to a local school, nursery or community group
  3. See if friends or family want it. You could even set up a bit of a LEGO swap party where everyone brings the LEGO they want to get rid of and swaps it for LEGO they do want. Again anything left over at the end can be donated to charity or a local school.
  4. Sell it. You could try selling LEGO yourself using Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Gumtree, but that can be tedious if you aren't selling complete sets. But there are a number of online services that will buy used LEGO parts based on weight, which might be an easier option (more on this below).
  5. Upcycle. If you are your children are particularly creative, you could try upcycling your old LEGO to give it a new lease of life. You could use it to create a fun new picture frame, or even to create a feature wall in your child's bedroom.

Easy ways to sell old LEGO

If you are planning on selling a complete LEGO set you no longer want, then you might choose to sell it on Facebook Marketplace or eBay, especially if you still have the original box and instructions. But if you just have a mish-mash of old blocks then you could try selling it with an online service that buys bricks based on weight. Options to consider include:

Once you have weighed your LEGO, simply follow the instructions on your chosen site (you might have to fill out an online form with your details) and you will likely get a valuation and instructions on packing up your bricks to send. 

Once your items have been received and checked for quality and weight, you'll usually receive your payment a few days after that. But remember, the valuation given might not be exactly how much you receive - you might receive less if the service you are using thinks there are any issues with the quality of what you have sent.

Will LEGO eventually become recyclable?

While LEGO can't currently be recycled in the UK, that's not to say it never will be. There are always advancements in engineering and materials so it is possible that LEGO will find a material that maintains the strength and durability of the existing LEGO block, while also being recyclable. 

But until then, LEGO does make moves to improve its sustainability. Any pieces made in the LEGO factories that don't pass the rigorous quality control checks are sometimes ground down to make new pieces. Others are reused in moulding to help generate power in LEGO facilities around the world. If LEGO makes too many of one kind of brick, then the overstock is donated to charities all over the world through the LEGO Foundation. 

LEGO has also launched a Replay scheme, where you can send unwanted LEGO back to LEGO and they will donate it on your behalf. But right now, this scheme is only available in the US and Canada, although there are plans to roll it out to more countries. 

If you're looking to buy some LEGO, take a look at our guide on the difference between LEGO and Playmobil to see which is right for your child.

Sarah Handley
Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor and is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around childcare costs, child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.