Toy-makers are trying to wean themselves off single-use plastics in response to the growing number of parents who are concerned about the environmental impact of plastic toys.
A recent survey commissioned by the industry group The Toy Association found that 78% of parents said the sustainability of a toy is important to them.
Mattel a year ago launched Mattel Playback, a progam that lets parents print out free shipping labels and use them to send old Barbie dolls, Mega Bloks, and Matchbox cars and games to Mattel collection sites for recycling and reuse.
Mattel now has expanded that program to include non-electronic Fisher-Price toys. The Fisher-Price division of Mattel includes Little People, Laugh & Learn, Imaginext and other brands.
Mattel in late 2019 set a goal for itself of using 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastics in all of its toys and packaging by 2030. This April it announced a new green goal of reducing plastic packaging by 25% per product by 2030.
Mattel also has been ramping up its sustainability efforts with the release this year of certified carbon neutral toys, including the Mega Bloks Green Town building sets, which according to Mattel are the first toy line sold at mass retail to be certified as carbon neutral.
It also announced its first carbon neutral Matchbox vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, made from 99% recycled materials.
The three biggest toy companies – Lego, Hasbro
Lego in October 2019 launched a program that lets parents donate old Lego bricks to school programs, and has been working to develop plant-based and bio-degradable alternative materials.
Hasbro in 2018 launched a program where its plastic toys can be sent to recycling innovator Terracycle to be repurposed into other products. In 2019 Hasbro issued a pledge to stop using plastic packaging by the end of this year.
“Sustainability and the environment is becoming more important to parents,” said Jim Silver, a toy industry expert and owner of the TTPM.com toy review site, and TTPM Influencer Talent Management.
All of the major toy companies, Silver said, are emphasizing their green initiatives. “It’s helpful for their image that they are showing they are concerned about the future and kids’ futures,” he said.
“This is a trend that’s just going to keep growing year after year,” Silver said.
Mattel’s year-old Playback program has helped Mattel learn more about “the durability and disassembly of our products, which will aid in the future design of products made for the circular economy,” Pamela Gil-Alabaster, global head of sustainability and social impact for Mattel, said in announcing the expansion of the Playback program.
Mattel has not released data about how many parents have used the Playback program thus far to recycle Barbies, Matchbox cars, or Mega Bloks, but Gil-Alabaster said the program “has been eagerly received by consumers.”