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The subject of sustainability in the toy industry is becoming more important as each day passes. Manufacturers, retailers, and buyers need to respond to this growing issue in order to remain relevant and competitive as stakeholder concern about our environment surges.
We recently held a webinar on “Sustainable toys: the challenges and opportunities for recycled materials” (consult the on-demand version). To learn more about theses issues we’ve interviewed our experts Adrian Wain – UL Sustainability expert – and Elisa Gavazza – UL Global toy principal

We wish you a good read and feel free to contact us to learn more about our wide portfolio of services for the toy world.

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Q: Adrian, do you think toys industries increased their interest in sustainable business approach in the last period?
Adrian: Absolutely. The toy industry is moving in a sustainable direction and there are great examples of toy producers using recycled or bio-based plastics, reducing material use in either the product or its packaging, and designing toys to be more easily recycled at the end of their usable life. There are also more sustainable business models being introduced such as toy subscriptions and exchange platforms. This movement is well-timed, as there is now an unprecedented sense of urgency across industries to address a climate and pollution crisis. Being sustainable is no longer a “nice to have”: it is a business-critical, also for toy products.

Q: What are the benefits that a more sustainable business can bring to toy companies?
Adrian: The value that can be unlocked through sustainability is greater than ever before. It can bring revenue growth, cost reduction, risk mitigation and also brand enhancement.
Elisa: However, it is worth noting that from a regulatory perspective, developing a more sustainable portfolio can also be challenging and there are many technical aspects to consider. 

Q: What do you mean with “challenging”? What are these challenges?
Elisa: Some challenges can be linked to regulatory compliance when toy manufacturers decide to use recycled materials in their toys. Recycling the same material more and more time may reduce the physical-mechanical strength of the end-product, but you still have to guarantee that these requirements are fulfilled by all of your toys. And there’s now a high attention on how the use of recycled materials can affect the chemical safety of a toy: recycled materials are often coming from products which are usually not toys and not subject to the same regulation, but you are responsible to be sure that they comply with toy standards before your launch your articles on the market.

Q: How can UL support toy companies in facing the mentioned challenges?
Elisa: In many different ways. For example, thanks to our global network of high-tech laboratories, at UL we can help you to verify these recycled materials you are using in your toys comply with global toy regulations and directives.
Adrian: And in general, UL can be an ideal partner and enabler for becoming more sustainable.
We can support toy companies to make a start through the selection of issues to focus on, understanding best practices for addressing such issues, and then implementing solutions. In many cases the first step to take is less focused on the product and more focused on the production facilities process. We offer services to facilities to measure and manage their carbon footprint, and also achieve sustainability milestones such as becoming zero waste. Unique to UL is our view that improving sustainability at facilities should be simple, fast and affordable, this is why we have introduced Turbo Carbon ™ solution, a one-stop-shop for carbon management..

Q: Thanks both. In conclusion, what would a future for sustainable toys look like for you?
Adrian: Looking across the value chain for toys, I see a future where toys are made from environmentally preferred materials where appropriate. I see toys that use less packaging materials in distribution and retail. I see toys that can educate and engage children on environmental actions during their use phase and have more scope for modifications and repair. And finally I see toys that are more easily and widely recycled.

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