Toy Companies Making Sustainability Moves

“Sustainable materials are something that comes up in many conversations with toy companies,” says Jeffries & Co.’s Stephanie Wissink. “It is increasingly on consumers’ minds, so clearly it is going to be important to them (toy companies)” to have a program for sustainable materials in packaging and products in place going forward.

Plastics are at the core of many toys, but some companies are making inroads in using sustainable materials.

Much of their initial focus is on packaging and their core products, but longer term those requirements will likely extend to licensees.

For example, Lego last year introduced into its playsets leaves, bushes and trees made entirely with sugarcane-based polyethylene, representing about 1-2% of the total plastic elements produced by Lego. The polyethylene is made with ethanol derived from sugarcane, sourced to comply with guidelines created by the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliances, an organization of nine consumer products companies that was formed to raise awareness of plant-based materials for packaging and products. Lego also has set a goal of using 100% sustainable materials to manufacture its core bricks and packaging by 2030.

Hasbro, meanwhile, eliminated wire ties in 2010, polyvinyl (PVC) plastic from toy and game packaging in 2013 and last year began switching to bioPET plant-based plastic for packaging that is made using monoethlene glycol (MEG) from sugarcane. The bioPET, which is biodegradable, can be used in packaging for, among other things, clear folding boxes and transparent sleeves.

Separately, Hasbro launched a toy recycling program last year aimed at collecting toys and games from consumers and recycling them into materials to be used in construction of new playgrounds, play spaces and park benches. The program started in the U.S. and is expanding to France and Germany this year.

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