Something like $3,050,000,000 worth of vibrators are sold every year — that's 60 million vibrators. After a lifetime of service, when they have given out their last little buzz, where do they go? Into landfill. And that's a problem the world's first biodegradable vibrator hopes to solve.
Silicone is by far the most popular choice when it comes to vibrators, given it is nonporous and entirely body safe. But it is one of the most difficult materials to recycle, says Elle Black, the founder of Australian online adult shop Mimi De Luxe.
"We've been looking for a recycling plant in Australia that will take silicone vibrators for over six months and we still haven't found one," Ms Black says. "It seems whilst silicone is great for your body, it's not so great for the environment when it comes to the end of its life. It can be recycled, but no one wants to touch used sex toys (literally)."
Most people don't consider the waste of discarded sex toys, but there are potentially hundreds of thousands of vibrators thrown out every year. Given the trend towards zero waste, it seems the sex toy industry is slow to pick up on it. However some sex toy manufacturers are addressing this problem.
"We've just taken stock of Gaia Eco, the world's first biodegradable vibrator. It is made from nonporous starch based bioplastic called Biofeel and will biodegrade in a commercial composting facility in less than three months," Black says.
BioFeel is a bioplastic mixed with cornstarch. The material is the perfect choice for a vibrator since it's nonporous, making in completely safe and clean for use in the body. The bioplastic biodegrades within three months in a commercial composting facility, and the electronics can be recycled.
So what if you want to recycle your existing sex toys? Do you throw them in the bin?
Not so fast! Mimi De Luxe hasn't given up on engaging a local recycling firm to take silicone and plastic sex toys, and once they do, they'll be requesting yours to recycle.
"I really like the idea of an amnesty where people can send us their unwanted sex toys and we will recycle them, instead of these going to landfill," says Ms Black. "I know a number of sex toy retailers have done it in the United States, but have had to give up because of the cost involved."
Until then, you can pester your local recycling facility and ask them why they won't take sex toys for recycling.