Though toys comprise less than 1% of the typical household waste stream, there is an industry-wide understanding that everyone has a role to play in support of sustainability.
Topics currently affecting the toy industry include:
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requirements are being implemented or considered by a number of jurisdictions. These typically require manufacturers of specified consumer products to either accept back products at the end of their useful life or to subscribe to a collective arrangement to do so.
- Minimum recycled content and/or recyclability levels for products are being considered by some locales. Limitations on specific packaging materials have also been discussed.
- Alternatives assessment requiring consideration of “life-cycle thinking” is a specific mandate in the California “Green Chemistry” legislation; similar legislation is being proposed in other states.
- Voluntary green labeling programs have been created by some agencies to accelerate participation in programs such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for Environment (DfE) program.
Demands for greater environmental sustainability of products are increasing, not only from legislators and NGOs, but also from retailers.
LAWS AND REGULATIONS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently working with Congress, members of the public, the environmental community and industry to reauthorize, modernize and strengthen the tools within the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 to increase confidence that chemicals used in commerce are safe.
- For nearly 15 years, TIA has worked with its toy company members to improve the industry’s commitment to environmental protection. These companies pledge to consider the environmental impact of their products and activities while continuing to provide safe, quality merchandise that meets customer and consumer needs.
- TIA’s Environmental Sustainability Committee is responsible for leading the Associations efforts to address the environmental aspects of products in order to reduce waste and promote recycling.
- As a member of The Sustainability Consortium’s (TSC) Toy Sector Working Group, TIA is helping to advance sustainable developments, with plans to explore several areas from plant-based plastics to packaging reduction.
Toy companies are committed to reducing their environmental impact through packaging reduction, increased use of recycled and bio-materials, and use of renewable energy sources in production. Some toymakers have already taken significant steps in their efforts to be “greener”; examples include:
- 100% compostable materials have replaced molded trays for an 80% carbon footprint reduction
- Bioplastics have replaced packaging components
- Packaging and labeling for products sold online has been reduced because key information was already provided in an electronic format
- Packaging redesign has reduced the volume of materials for one company by 30%
CHECK IT OUT ...
What questions do some environmentally-conscious kids have about toy packaging, global commerce, and the eco-needs of both producers and consumers? See for yourself in this video of a May 2012 visit by TIA to an elementary school in Warren, MI.