Children’s lost toys generate almost 500 tonnes of plastic waste per year in Ireland, the equivalent of over 30 million plastic bottles ending up in landfill.
90% of toys sold globally are made from plastic and with up to 5.5 million plastic toys lost permanently every year in Ireland, these present a significant waste problem.
What’s more, toys alone don’t show the full extent of Ireland’s lost property problem. Children permanently lose 13 possessions every year on average research has revealed, equating to a staggering 13 million items lost per year in total in Ireland, many of which have a high plastic content.
The study, which was conducted amongst Irish parents by leading name label manufacturer My Nametags, found that toys are the most commonly lost item by children, with almost half of parents (47%) stating that their youngsters have mislaid a plaything. This is closely followed by socks (36 percent), stationery (30%) and cuddly toys (23%).
The findings reveal the staggering lost property problem in Ireland, not just for parents’ pockets but the environment too, with all four of the most commonly lost items containing high proportions of unsustainable materials, including plastic.
Interestingly, almost a quarter of parents admitted that their child most commonly loses reusable plastic water bottles. This demonstrates that even measures intended to reduce children’s impact on the environment could be having an adverse effect.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Sally Beken, founder of the UK Circular Plastics Network and Head of Polymers at KTN, said: “By losing garments that could be passed on and ultimately recycled, we are missing an opportunity to make clothing more sustainable. Highlighting the scale of the problem is the first step to remedying it.
“After littering, incineration and landfill are the worst scenarios for textiles that are no longer useful. There are some novel solutions to the circularity of polymers and synthetic textiles that are starting to develop that will mean if we can capture garments, we can revalue them as starting materials for new plastic products.”