Mattel launches pilot program to recover and recycle toys with sustainability at the forefront

Mattel PlayBack is a toy "takeback" program that helps support the company's goal to achieve "100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all products and packaging by 2030."

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Mattel announced the launch of a pilot program that allows consumers to recycle their unwanted toys and then reuse the materials to produce future toys. The program titled, Mattel PlayBack, is a toy “takeback” program that helps support the company’s goal to achieve “100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all products and packaging by 2030.”

The pilot program will initially be available in the United States and Canada, according to a press release. In time, Mattel will extend the program to France, Germany and the United Kingdom through third-party recycling partners.

“Mattel toys are made to last and be passed on from generation to generation,” Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer of Mattel, said. “A key part of our product design process is a relentless focus on innovation, and finding sustainable solutions is one significant way we are innovating. 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 PlayBack program allows consumers to print a free shipping label from Mattel’s website and mail back their unused toys in which the company will sort and separate by material type and then “responsibly recycle.” The recycled material will then be used in the production of new toys. Materials that can’t be repurposed, Mattel will “either downcycle those materials or convert them from waste to energy,” according to a press release.

To start, the program will “takeback” Barbie®, Matchbox® and MEGA® toys for recycling and intends to add other brands to this list in the near future. 

“At Mattel, we are committed to managing the environmental impact of our products,” Pamela Gill-Alabaster, global head of sustainability at Mattel, said. “The Mattel PlayBack 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 we’re taking to address the growing global waste challenge.”

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