Can Board Games Be Recycled?

can board games be recycled

In the age of digital media, it seems like all of our games are played online or on one of our million devices these days. The days of game nights have long since passed for many of us, and we’ve been left with piles of boxes filled with useless plastic pieces, instructional packets, and cardboard slabs. 

So, an inevitable question comes up. What are you supposed to do with all of these old board games? After all, they have so many different individual pieces and parts. Which parts can be recycled? Which parts have to be thrown away into the normal garbage? Can board games be recycled? Only the cardboard and paper from your board games can be recycled. All the little plastic game pieces or inserts are not recyclable and must be disposed of into the waste bin.

For those of you who want to get rid of your board games, there are answers to all of these questions and more. Read on to find out if you can recycle board games, how to do it, what pieces you can throw away, and how to donate them if you’d prefer that!

How Do You Dispose of Old Board Games?

There are plenty of ways to dispose of old, unwanted board games. These range from giving them away to chucking them in the trash, but rest assured they don’t have to be stuck cluttering up your closets anymore. 

Donate Your Board Games

First and foremost, I would be remiss if I did not recommend donating the board games. There are plenty of places and people that still get a ton of use out of board games. Orphanages, children’s hospitals, schools, shelters, and other places where people of all ages gather regularly use board games as a cheap form of recreation. 

Donating your board games is a great way to get rid of them, and is far more productive than throwing them away. We will cover this more below, so if you’re looking to donate, scroll down to learn more!

Selling Old Board Games

Similarly, there are some board games that are worth some money! Now, these are mostly rarer board games that collectors or board game enthusiasts might want. Granted, you’ll have to make sure you have every little piece, sometimes even including the instructions in order to sell them.

See if any of your local board game shops want your games, or look up if anyone is selling them online and see if you can too! Ebay is a great marketplace to sell both new and used board games.

Repurposing Board Games

See if there are any parts in your board games you can use for other things. For instance, plenty of games have notepads inside that you may want to use if you’re a doodler, or you like to make to-do lists or jot down notes throughout the day! 

Things like game pieces, dice, and other small parts can be used to replace lost parts of games you do like to play. Similarly, old board game boxes can be used to hold plenty of things, such as trinkets, pencils, craft supplies, etc. With repurposing, you can get as creative as you want!


Whether or not you can recycle a board game isn’t a simple yes or no answer. You can’t simply chuck the entire thing into the recycling bin. There are parts of board games that are great for recycling purposes, and parts that can’t be recycled. There are even parts you might think would be perfect, but in fact, can’t be recycled at all. 

For instance, the boxes of your board games can be perfectly suitable for recycling, if they’re made of normal cardboard as most board game boxes are. The same can be said for the game boards, paper instructions, and other cardboard and paper pieces. 

However, contrary to what you might think, plastic pieces of board games are often not able to be recycled. This is mostly due to the type of plastic used. Board game pieces are often very small and dense, meaning that recycling plants are unable to use them for much at all. 

Similarly, the plastic inserts often found in board games are sometimes not able to be recycled as well. Generally speaking, the smaller pieces of plastic, as well as the inserts, can’t be recycled in most places. However, there might be an embossed mark that tells you it is in fact able to be recycled. 

Alternatively, you can find out what kind of plastic it is made of and check your local recycling regulations. Although this is more time-consuming, it is the most accurate way to know you are recycling only recyclable materials.  

What Materials Are Board Games Made Of?

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Board games can be made out of many different materials. Usually, the board itself is made of a binding board or chipboard. These are pieces of paper or cloth material that are tightly woven together to create a firm, humidity-resistant board. 

The boards usually have a textured paper wrap on them as well. This is the black cover that is on the bottom of most of your board games! 

Most of the boards, game pieces, and other materials are also coated in varnish, UV, or laminate to keep them looking new and shiny. Often, this as well as the denseness of the plastic in the smaller pieces make them unrecyclable, but make sure to check your local recycling center’s accepted materials list. 

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Are Plastic Board Game Inserts Recyclable?

More often than not, plastic board game inserts are not recyclable. The small, flexible plastic can’t often be melted down for re-use properly. 

There is a non-zero chance you can recycle your plastic board game inserts, though. Check your city or town’s recycling center’s accepted materials. Sometimes, plastic board game inserts are able to be recycled in some cities and towns, but usually not. 

Can You Donate Puzzles or Board Games?

Absolutely! In fact, this is probably the best way to get rid of them. After all, there is no point in throwing away or recycling a game that could just be used by someone else. See if any local schools, children’s hospitals, or other gathering places for kids or teens are interested in taking some old board games off your hands! 

Thrift stores such as the Goodwill or local flea markets are also a great place to hand down your board game! Just make sure it has the proper pieces, or at least enough to play the game. 

Donating your game is not only easy, as you don’t have to sort through the different parts and see what is recycling-friendly and what needs to be thrown away, but it can also make a difference in someone’s life! You may as well not waste the board game by just chucking it. Let someone else have the same fun you had!

Final Thoughts

So if there was a short answer to “can you recycle board game?” I guess it would be “yes.” However, there are some caveats. Only certain parts of the game are recyclable, and which parts vary greatly from city to city. 

It is much easier, better, and less wasteful to simply donate or sell your board game. You have to do less work, and someone else gets to benefit as well! If you want to recycle it, you can, but you’ll end up throwing away more plastic than you would’ve just giving the board game away to someone who could use it. 

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