Christmas Toy Container

Local Gov't • Mid and East Antrim

The MEA Christmas Toy Container project diverts items from landfill, promotes the circular economy and provides lovely toys to families who are struggling during the festive season.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's story

Council officers realised the huge potential for diverting pre-loved and unwanted toys from landfill, especially on the run up to Christmas, when families are planning to purchase new toys. The Mid and East Antrim (MEA) Christmas Toy Container project has now run for over four years. From saving one tonne of toys from landfill in its first year, in 2022 the project saved an incredible 5.2 tonnes of toys and gifted them to local communities.

MEA council invites residents to drop off pre-loved and unwanted toys to their local Household Recycling Centre (HRC) over this period. The Environmental Health team work with the waste team to ensure strict acceptance guidance on toys dropped off. The council then works in partnership with Habitat for Humanity (Restore) in Ballymena, East Belfast Mission in Larne and Blythswood charity in Carrickfergus by donating the toys to sell on through their charity shops.

By delivering this project, the Council provides items to generate revenue for the charities, and provides families from all walks of life with an opportunity to benefit from purchasing very reasonably priced toys for loved ones at Christmas.

Dates for toy drop begin in October, and end the week before Christmas. Toys accepted include kids bicycles, scooters, plastic seesaws, small plastic slides etc, games, v-tech toys, jigsaws, books, dolls, robots, most plastic/wooden toys etc, in good working order. We do not accept soft plush toys e.g. teddy bears.

The hope is to continue to run the project for many years to come.

Useful learnings from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Ensure you have all relevant staff aware of the project, including start/end times.

Ensure you have an effective communications campaign designed to inform the public.

Ensure you have the outlets established to gift toys to the public i.e. local charities and local community groups.

Ensure comms include specific information on the type of toys accepted (and what is not).

Ensure effective comms between staff during the project, to ensure there is no build up of toys at the drop off locations.

Ensure staff use the Household Recycling Centre weighbridge to capture the tonnage diverted.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's metrics

Tonnage of toys diverted from landfill.
Number of families supported.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Action Area

Circular Economy

Response to climate crisis





Local Gov't, 250 to 10,000 people

Shared by

Northern Ireland Local Government Association

Updated Feb, 2024

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