Products of Change


Tue 01 Jun 2021 | by Michelle Urquhart

Toy recycling and reusing must be more accessible

It’s not just about the materials used, but also making toy share schemes and recycling initiatives more accessible according to Gary Pope, co-founder at marketing agency Kids Industries, one of the big sponsors for the Sustainability in Licensing Conference (SILC) on 24-25 June. In his recent vlog, co-founder of Kids Industries, Gary Pope talks about some of the ways the toy industry is becoming more sustainable, including reusing and recycling. At least 70 percent of kids claim to do at least three environmentally friendly things every day such as recycling or choosing a green method of transport. A sustainable culture is forming. But the thing about sustainability is that sometimes it’s not very easy. Or cheap. Sustainable is only possible in reality, if it is accessible. And it is happening. Apps like YoungPlanet work by letting parents list a range of unwanted items such as toys, books, clothes and baby equipment and connects them to people who do want them. It started in Hackney in London, by the parents of three children, last year, and has now 35,000 users across the UK. Children grow out of things so quickly initiatives like this give old toys a new lease of life. The types of products that families consume can be perfect additions to the circular economy and families really are a group that need to get behind sustainability principles if we are to make it work and so initiatives need to be accessible - just like Young Planet. But new toys will always be important. Of course LEGO are industry leaders in this game - In 2020, the LEGO Group announced it is making a deeper commitment to sustainability, pledging to reduce its carbon emissions by 37% by 2032. This target includes emissions from the Danish brickmaker’s own operations and its supply chain. Real leadership - no wonder LEGO is probably the best toy company in the world. Brainstorm Toys has launched a sustainable collectible called EUGY. Build your own 3D models, lovely simplified miniature animal collectibles. It looks like it might be a thing this Chrismas. But the important thing is that it is made from biodegradable card with natural eco-friendly ink and non-toxic glue. Then there’s recycling. Mattel’s new toy recycling initiative is a massive step in the right direction. Mattel PlayBack is a programme designed to recover and reuse materials from old products in the manufacturing of new toys. They give free shipping labels online to package and send their old Mattel toys back to the company. They will be collected, separated by material type, processed and recycled. Products that can’t be repurposed into new toys will be down-cycled into other plastic products or converted into energy. Kids Industries is sponsoring the Sustainability in Licensing Conference (SILC) on June 24-25. Tickets to SILC are just £100 (+VAT) and are available from, or from Clare Hollick of Createvents (event support) on or by calling 0118 334 0085.