Mattel wants to turn your old Barbies into brand-new toys


Through the years, I’ve tried to scale back my plastic consumption through the use of refillable bottles and bringing my very own baggage to the grocery story. However as quickly as I had a child, my battle with plastic grew to become a lot tougher. Most youngsters’s merchandise—from tableware to toys—are made from plastic as a result of it’s unbreakable and straightforward to clear.

Mattel is now taking steps to assuage mother and father’ guilt. This week, the model launched PlayBack, a program that lets individuals ship toys again to Mattel, which is able to then use the supplies for brand new toys.

Mattel, which offered $4.58 billion of toys in 2020, makes a lot of its merchandise out of plastic, from constructing blocks to dolls to collectible figurines. This stuff haven’t traditionally been recyclable, which suggests once they attain the top of their life, they find yourself in a landfill.

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[Photo: Mattel]

Over the previous few years, there’s been a rising client consciousness about how plastic harms the planet. Manufacturers starting from Colgate to Everlane at the moment are working to curb their plastic utilization, use extra recycled plastic, and make their merchandise recyclable. Toy manufacturers at the moment are making an attempt to do their half. In 2019, Mattel introduced a purpose of attaining 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic supplies in all its merchandise and packaging by 2030. This toy take-back program is designed to assist this mission.


To take part, households can go to the Mattel web site to obtain a free pre-paid label to ship toys again. For now, this system solely contains the Barbie, Matchbox and Mega manufacturers, however Mattel says it’s going to add different manufacturers quickly. In the US, Mattel will work in-house to get well the supplies in these toys and use them to create new merchandise. Within the U.Ok., France, and Germany, the place Mattel has launched comparable packages, the corporate will work with third-party recyclers, equivalent to Terracycle.

The corporate hasn’t specified what share of plastic it’s going to finally turn again into toys. Supplies that may’t be turned into merchandise will both be downcycled or incinerated to create energy. Neither of those choices is good. Downcycling means creating different plastic merchandise of decrease performance or high quality (like a park bench) that may’t be recycled once more, that means that it’ll nonetheless find yourself in a landfill on the finish of its life cycle. And burning plastic—very similar to burning fossil fuels—retains plastic out of landfills however contributes to world warming.

Nonetheless, it is a step in the fitting path for Mattel. If the corporate is in a position to construct out this recycling infrastructure, it’s going to doubtlessly have the option to infinitely recycle old toys into new ones, making a round system that doesn’t require extracting new sources and additional harming the planet. Finally, that’s what all mother and father need for his or her youngsters.