How Sex Toys Are Recycled by Rabbit Amnesty
Help save the world by sending your dead vibrators to Lovehoney Rabbit Amnesty to be recycled. Here's what happens at the recycling plant when they receive a ton of sex toys…
Did you know that throwing away your old vibrator might damage the environment? All waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), whether it's TVs, toasters, computers or vibrators, can release toxins and pollute the environment when thrown into landfill.
As a result, the EU has introduced a directive aimed at reducing the environmental impact of WEEE by encouraging the reuse of electrical components and increasing recovery of raw materials from waste electrical products.
The legislation - known as Directive 2002/06/EC to its friends - has now passed into law into all EC member states. As of July 2007 in the UK, it is illegal to dispose of waste electrical and electronic equipment into landfill. Now, everything from your broken vibrator to your old Breville sandwich maker must now be disposed of properly.
More than 1,000 electrical waste centres have been set up at recycling sites around the UK. But who wants the hassle and embarrassment of taking a dog-eared defunct sex toy down to the council tip? Not many people, we hazard, which is why we set up the Rabbit Amnesty sex toy recycling scheme.
Instead of chucking your old vibrator in the bin, you can send them to Rabbit Amnesty and we'll recycle them for you with the help of SWEEEP, a specialist waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) processor.
How Your Sex Toys are Recycled
SWEEEP runs a state-of-the-art approved authorised treatment facility where waste electrical equipment can be processed safely at the end of its life. Its £5m plant in Kent is one of the most sophisticated and environmentally friendly recycling plants in Europe.
All electrical and electronic equipment sent to SWEEEP is recycled or refurbished to ensure compliance with the EU WEEE directive. In short what that means is that when you send your rabbit to Rabbit Amnesty, it gets recycled properly.
We've already sent them about 1,000 vibrators to be recycled, and here you can see them just after they've been delivered and just before the JCB lifts them on to the conveyor belt with an old vacuum cleaner and sundry other rubbish.
The first stage is to run the products through the Querstromzerspaner - it's called "the QZ" for short, because the German for "chain mill" is too much of a mouthful for SWEEEP operatives.
This behemoth of a machine works like a hurricane to spin everything together and smash it apart. It creates an enclosed tornado in which metals and aluminium cut softer materials such as plastics so no other cutting tools are required.
This is a very efficient way of breaking down the WEEE because it requires minimum pre-dismantling, has low operating costs and ensures the highest quality output materials.
The effect is to disassemble everything to its constituent parts: metals, plastics, rubber and batteries.
Next, these materials are sorted using magnets - anything that contains iron is filtered out automatically - and then by hand. Desirable material and hazardous elements are picked out by hand to be recycled appropriately.
The Granulator bunker is used to bulk up material prior to running into the shredder – this gives the shredder an even volume of material rather than how it might naturally occur in dribs and drabs. It also enables the operators to in-feed directly to the granulator if they want to carry out secure destruction of hard drives - or sex toys.
At the next stage, the parts that have not been hand-picked are shredded and then separated using another magnet.
Once past this stage, the material runs to an eddy current separator which attracts rubber and plastic using static electricity, and shoot away non-ferrous metal such as aluminium.
The end result of this stage is a mix of non-ferrous plastic, chipboard and rubber which is sent to a company called Sims in Wales. It has a water density floatation process that separates out the remaining metal, plastic and also a waste element.
Sims is constantly upgrading this process to reduce the waste percentage, which is approx 25% at the moment. This waste will typically contain chipboard, vacuum pipe dust and bits of fluff.
The mixed plastic that is recovered can be used in compression moulded products such as plastic decking and benches.
Various grades of steel are produced by SWEEEP - the good stuff goes to Sheerness Steel and the lower grade typically goes to Spain, so there is some truth in the good quality of UK steel!
The batteries go for recycling at G&P batteries, which is the largest UK battery processor and fairly unique in that they process most of the batteries in the UK. Acid and metals are recovered from the batteries.
What your old rabbit vibrator is ultimately recycled as depends on where its plastic, steel or other metals ends up. But by recycling your sex toys with Lovehoney and SWEEEP, you can be certain that your old vibes are not going to end up in landfill. And that has to be a good thing.