How can we make Toys and their Packaging more sustainable?
So we all know the problem, the awareness after Blue Planet is at an all time high, so what’s being done in the Toy industry to help the situation?
Now I know I can’t cover each companies current policies here, but I’d love to touch on the bigger picture and give a general overview of good practices already in place in the toy industry. Over the last few years there has been a slow move towards more environmentally friendly toys and packaging but finally it seems to be picking up pace with buyers searching out the latest innovations in this area and manufacturers taking up the challenge.
"Blue Planet II spurred a passionate global response and generated clear behavioural and policy change.” Dr Robin Niblett from Chatham House
"The series ( Blue Planet II) revealed how plastic items - estimated to total more than 150 million tonnes - are drifting in the world's oceans and causing the deaths of one million birds and 100,000 sea mammals each year." BBC News
After investigating the latest innovations, its great to see the awareness increasing and companies actively looking to tackle the amount of plastic that’s being used. Many companies have expanded on their recycling policies and are now using these as an extra selling point for their ranges.
The old mantra of RECYCLE, REDUCE, REUSE is still very relevant and can be used to categorise
the current eco trends in the toy world.
One of my favourite discoveries in this area, is the full plush range made from recycled plastic! This impressive leap forward means the full toy is made from recycled items, including the swing tags and ties. This is a great idea that could definitely be developed further and applied to many other ranges.
Eco friendly inks, glues and even glitters are also now available. Going forward even the small change to paper based cable ties will make a big difference long term to the environment.
The use of toy recycling schemes should also be encouraged and it’s good to see some of the market leaders developing these practices. We have a responsibility to teach the next generation about how they can help the environment and there's great potential here to illustrate this on the toy packaging along with the recycling schemes.
There's some great innovations already taking place in other industries such as school uniforms being made from plastic bottles and disposable cups being produced from plants. I wonder if any of these ideas could be replicated in the toy industry to further increase our response?
Many companies are also now consciously reducing the size of their packaging too which I feel will have the greatest impact over all. There’s some great examples within the puzzle and games markets
where there has been so much unnecessary waste so this is a welcomed step forward for the industry. The reduction of plastic wrap is also an easy step to cut back on and using other ways to keep the contents safe can easily be found.
It’s also great to see companies that specialise in wooden toys also taking a stand against using plastics and converting all previous uses of plastic parts in their range to other eco friendly materials. This simple step doesn't effect the product function but makes a big difference long term to the reduction of plastics in our environment.
Using the toy packaging to house its contents for the full life cycle is a great way to reuse the pack which otherwise would be destine for landfill. There's some great examples currently out there of these packs becoming a fun way of enhancing the brand or even becoming one of the characters!
I’m also a great fan of the upcoming toy ranges that include the packaging as part of the play value for the toy. This is a creative development that can be used in so many different ways, increasing the play value for the child and also helping the environmental impact. This is a great idea that hopefully will be developed further over the next few years as the potential for this development is huge. I'm looking forward to seeing this idea really take off and cant wait to see the creative way it's used.
The eventual goal is that one day all toy products and packaging will become eco-friendly therefore leaving the planet in great shape for children of the future to enjoy. By following some of the ideas mentioned above, I feel we are becoming ever closer to this reality but everyone has the responsibility to play their part.
Creative Toes Design offers packaging design services and is always happy to work towards creating eco friendly solutions where possible. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website at www.creativetoesdesign.co.uk for more info on the services we can offer.