Whether it’s using plant-based plastics, recycled materials, or collecting old items from consumers, the toy industry is striving to go green. In recent years, major brands in the industry – such as Lego, Hasbro and Mattel – have launched various initiatives as part of a larger movement towards environmental responsibility.
On May 11, toy maker Mattel announced the launch of a massive circular economy program in five countries, whereby consumers can return old toys from Mattel’s Barbie, Matchbox and Mega brands to the manufacturer. These will then be cleaned and transformed into plastic granules, which will then be used to manufacture new products. The initiative is part of a broader sustainable development approach for the group. A year ago, for example, the American toy giant presented a collection of plant-based plastic toys for its Fisher-Price and Mega Bloks brands.
But the creator of Barbie isn’t the only player in making the toy industry green. In 2019, competitor brand Hasbro announced plans to ban plastic from its packaging, including gradually reducing the use of poly bags, rubber bands and blister films by 2022. The brand also aims to divide by two its waste production, reduce its water consumption by 15% and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by one fifth by 2025.
And, like Mattel, Hasbro has started using plant-based plastic to make some of its products. In addition, a vast collection of second-hand toys organized in 2019 by the brand in partnership with TerraCycle will use the plastic of old toys to create public benches or play areas.
Other toy makers with green initiatives include famous Danish brick maker Lego, which in 2019 launched its “Treehouse” set of bricks made from plant-based plastic made from sugarcane. In addition, the brand has set itself the goal of making Lego bricks exclusively from sustainable sources by 2030.
These ambitious goals are in line with new consumer expectations. And these brands have made quite a turnaround, it seems. Just 10 years ago, Greenpeace recognized these three toy giants for using materials from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), directly contributing to deforestation of the rainforest in Indonesia.
In 2011, Greenpeace called on Lego, Hasbro, and Mattel (as well as other toy makers like Disney) to “become leaders in their industry in using sustainable forest products for all of their toys and packaging, immediately highlighting implementing new procurement policies to cover the purchase of all pulp and paper products.
According to Greenpeace, Lego was the first of the companies to take action in response to its claims. Shortly after the NGO’s campaign in 2011, the Danish company announced plans to reduce packaging, maximize the use of recycled materials and ensure any remaining virgin fiber comes from sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. . Mattel followed suit a few months later.
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