Mattel, a 76-year-old toy company, is launching a pilot program to recycle old toys in a step towards a sustainability-focused future. The Mattel PlayBack is designed to recover and reuse materials in old toys for future Mattel products. The company had previously committed to using 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all of its products and packaging by 2030.
Pamela Gill-Alabaster, Mattel’s global head of sustainability, told CNN Business that the company gets to keep the valuable materials out of a landfill and have the opportunity to learn from the circular model. The program will initially only be available in the United States and Canada, but the company is launching similar PlayBack programs in France, Germany and the United Kingdom with a third-party partner.
The toy company is kicking off this program with three brands – Barbie, Matchbox and MEGA toys, and plans to add other brands in the future. Mattel experimented with a similar program in Canada with its MEGA toys in 2020 in partnership with TerraCycle, a recycling company based in New Jersey.
Richard Dickson, President and Chief Operating Officer, Mattel, in a news release said their toys are made to last and be passed on from generation to generation. “A key part of our product design process is relentless focus on innovation, and finding sustainable solutions is one significant way we are innovating,” he said. “Our Mattel PlayBack program is a great example of this, enabling us to turn materials from toys that have lived their useful life into recycled materials for new products.”
The company said that for materials that cannot be repurposed as recycled content in new toys, Mattel PlayBack will either downcycle those materials or convert them from waste to energy. Consumers just have to visit the company’s online portal, print a free shipping label, pack and mail their out grown Mattel toys to the company. The toys collected will be sorted and separated by material type and responsibly processed and recycled.
The program helps parents and caregivers ensure that materials stay in play, and out of landfills, with the aim to repurpose these materials as recycled content in new toys. It is one important step the company is taking to address the growing global waste challenge.