A Toy Story- circularity gives new life to old toys


Toys, a thriving market captivating the imaginations of countless children annually, also raise substantial environmental concerns about the sustainability of this industry’s future. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation highlights the alarming statistic of nearly 2 billion tonnes of waste sent to landfills each year, with a staggering 80% of toys produced in 2019 ultimately ending up as waste or landfill, contributing significantly to plastic waste.

France alone sees approximately 40 million toys discarded as waste yearly, as reported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Recognizing the growing necessity for circularity within the toy sector, many manufacturers are taking action. Initiatives like LEGO Replay advocate for reusing and recycling LEGO bricks. LEGO, emphasizing its product’s longevity, encourages sharing or passing on bricks, promoting a circular economy. The result? Over 460,000 kgs of LEGO bricks recycled through the program.

Mattel, the force behind Barbie, has also embraced a similar reuse plan. Parents can return toys to Mattel with a free shipping label, aligning with the company’s green goals to use eco-friendly plastics and reduce plastic packaging by 25% per product by 2030.

Jessie in 'Toy Story 2'.

The world of toys is being examined through the lens of circularity by Circulareconomyloop.com, suggesting inventive strategies for enhancing sustainability in this realm. Among these is the concept of ‘upcycling hubs’ in spaces like shopping malls and libraries. These hubs would not only serve as collection points for old toys but also create spaces for workshops, where toys can be sorted and refurbished. This approach educates children about repurposing and demonstrates that broken toys don’t necessarily warrant disposal. Additionally, these hubs could foster entrepreneurial skills by teaching children to derive value from discarded items.

Design emerges as a pivotal factor in extending toy lifecycles and reducing plastic waste. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation emphasizes that material choice and design directly impact durability, offering insight into what happens to toys once their usefulness wanes.

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