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Children’s magazine publishers working on sustainable solutions

Thu 25 Mar 2021 | 09:46 am GMT
Samantha Loveday | Products of Change Writer

Waitrose will no longer sell children’s magazines containing disposable toys

After Tuesday’s (23 March) news that Waitrose will no longer sell children’s magazines containing disposable toys, Redan, Immediate Media and Kennedy highlight the steps they are taking to become more sustainable. Redan Publishing, Immediate Media and Kennedy Publishing have all reacted to the move, which will see Waitrose remove the titles from its supermarket shelves over the next eight weeks, instead calling for magazine publishers to replace plastic toys with more sustainable alternatives. “While we know these magazines are popular with children, some of the unnecessary plastic attached to them has become really excessive,” commented Marija Rompani, partner and director of ethics and sustainability at Waitrose. “Many in the younger generation really care about the planet and are the ones inheriting the problem of plastic pollution. “We urge publishers to find alternatives, and other retailers to follow our lead in ending the pointless plastic that comes with children’s magazines.” Redan Publishing’s md, Julie Jones, said the company understood Waitrose’s concerns and that it takes the sustainability of its business and products “very seriously”. “We have been working hard over the past few years to make changes to the materials we use, to significantly reduce non-recyclable packaging and to increase the educational value of our covermount gifts,” she commented. “All of our packaging is fully recyclable with regular household waste or at a recycling facility. In line with our magazine content, which follows the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the covermounts on our Fun To Learn magazines facilitate play-based learning opportunities that complement the seven areas of learning in the EYFS. They also facilitate different types of play opportunities which are key factors in a child’s communication and literacy development.” Julie continued: “Our toy covermounts, such as medical sets, shopping sets, tea sets and bubble-blowing sets etc, go through the same stringent toy safety testing as regular toys and have a multi-use function. As with regular toys, children will turn to them time and time again for further enjoyment. “In addition to that, with 4.2 million UK children living in poverty in 2019 (according to Government figures) the affordability of our magazines with covermount, stickers and educational workbook (typically £3.99) offers all children an opportunity to play and learn. “We welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with Waitrose and other retailers to ensure that we continue to align with their corporate policies into the future.” Immediate Media also stated that it is constantly looking for ways to improve the durability or recyclability of all of its gifts. A statement from the publisher read: “The vast majority of our covermount gifts are educational, craft or collectable which would comply with Waitrose’s new regulations and we are looking forward to working with Waitrose and other retailers to improve sustainability across all our products. All our covermount packaging is recyclable and we have reduced the use of plastic in our gifts.” Kennedy Publishing, meanwhile, referred to the official PPA group statement, which urges retailers to keep working with publishers to support continued improvements in sustainability across the supply chain and ensure their customers have access to a full range of children’s magazines. Redan, Immediate Media and Kennedy are among the children’s publishers which have been working alongside Wastebuster on its Recycle to Read programme for the last two years on a sustainable solution for their products. The programme has been developed by Wastebuster and The Pod in association with EPPIC and Products of Change in response to the call for action from the publishers, explained founder Katy Newnham. “The programme will build a new recycling infrastructure for hard to recycle plastic toys, collectively funded by the industry, and will promote waste reduction, reuse and recycling with a schools and consumer-facing environmental education campaign, while rewarding participating schools and communities with books and reading materials to improve children’s literacy,” Katy explained. “In alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Recycle to Read is a collective impact initiative between industry, government, and consumers to promote responsible consumption and production. That will unlock considerable social, economic, and environmental benefits for the societies in which it operates. The long-term aim of the programme is to provide research to industry to support the transition to more sustainable product design and circularity in the UK, with a view to global replication.” Following on from the toy industry webinar held in February, Wastebuster is calling for all UK toy companies to join up to be part of a team that builds the first UK circular recycling infrastructure for the toy industry. To register to learn more please get in touch with Katy Newnham (katy@wastebuster.co.uk) by April 22 (Earth day). Join the UK magazine industry, Children’s Literacy Trust, brand owners, retailers, schools and local authorities to create this important initiative.
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