The environmental impact of toys is often overlooked because it hides behind the facade of being an innocent industry that created joy for kids. Although that may be true, we cannot ignore that the toy industry is the most plastic-intensive industry of the world. Coincidentally, plastics make up 80% of all marine debris. The toy-making manufacturer Mattel has decided to step up to the challenge of using less plastic.
Mattel has announced their PlayBack Program that will be running initially in the United States of America and Canada. It’s essentially a method to promote a circular economy; instead of throwing away toys or donating them to shelters, this PlayBack Program will have consumers returning old toys which Mattel will reuse as recycled content of new products. The Barbie-making company has a plan B if the toys can’t be recycled for whatever reason: these will be downcycled into new plastic products or convert them to energy.
The company has also made it fairly simple to implement this PlayBack Program. Parents can click on the website to download a shipping form and label, print out the free prepaid label and package the toys. In three easy steps the products will be well on their way to reduce plastic emissions. It may not be the most intense or aggressive approach, but with 90% of the toys on the market being made of plastic, we’re sure that Mattel and other toy companies will soon take on more and more sustainable initiatives.