If you haven’t been subject to the fidget spinner craze, those little toys everyone from schoolchildren to business execs can’t stop spinning, chances are high that you are in fact living under a rock. But like all good fads — Silly Bandz bracelets, Tickle Me Elmo and Chia Pets, to name but a few of the trends that swept in and out of our lives like a tornado — the popularity will peter out soon. And when that happens, will all these fidget spinners be recycled?

The sad truth? Probably not, says waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk. “They’ll either gather dust in a drawer before being sold as a genuine antique on Ebay in 10 years’ time, or they’ll end up in the bin,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall. “My money’s on the latter.”

A Disposable Culture

The problem with this fad is two-fold, Hall says. First, there are millions of spinners in the hands of people who are happy right now, but that’s bound to change. And when that does, that leaves millions of them to dispose of. Consumers might not know whether they’re recyclable and will throw them in the trash, sending them straight to a landfill.

It’s all fun and games until fidget spinners are no longer cool. Photo: Shutterstock

The second issue is all those warehouses and back rooms filled with fidget spinners that will never find a home once the trend goes past its peak. “We saw this with loom bands,” Hall says. “Shops and mail-order companies over-ordered like they were going out of fashion, and suddenly they did just that.” Will companies responsibly dispose of them, or just cut their losses, put them into a Dumpster, and move on?

What Are Fidget Spinners Made From?

There is some good news, though. Fidget spinners are crafted from a variety of materials, from plastic and aluminum to titanium, brass, copper and stainless steel. The metals are recyclable, but it gets somewhat complicated when they’re mixed with plastic, as in some models. Still, if your curbside program accepts metals, you’re probably okay to chuck them into your blue bin (always check with your local recycling facility to be sure).

“There really ought to be separate bins for fidget spinners this autumn,” Hall says. “Not to mention separate areas at [dumps] and fidget spinner amnesty boxes at charity shops and school reception areas.”

For now, just keep spinning. But when you tire of this latest toy, don’t forget to think about the earth before you toss it in the trash.

Feature photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
How Many Times Can That Be Recycled?
What Are the Latest Green Living Trends?
Letting Go and Finding a Second Life for Old Toys

By Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of publications, covering everything from sustainability to fitness to travel. Read more of her work here.