Creating safer and more sustainable toys
Turning today’s biggest environmental challenges into a competitive advantage
Play is essential to childhood development and learning. In fact, according to Article 31 of the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) it is also fundamental human right. That is good news for a global toy industry, which was worth over US$104 billion in 2021. Unfortunately, it’s not so great for the environment.
According to Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 80% of all toys end up in landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. In France alone, more than 40 million toys end up as waste every year. Toy manufacturing is now the most plastics-intensive industry on the planet, creating significant CO2 into the environment. It is also one of the riskiest at 3.9% of annual revenue.
Consumers are waking up to the safety and sustainability implications of plastic playthings. The latest TÜV Rheinland research – which polled the opinions of parents and children, along with retailers and government regulators – identified safety and non-toxic materials as the two most critical considerations for toys. They outweighed every other quality, including value-for-money, durability or brand.
Taking steps to safer chemicals
Although the developmental benefits from playing with toys can last a lifetime, so could the health and environmental risks of chemical-related impacts. It is essential that the safety expectations of parents, regulators, investors and other stakeholders are aligned, and the use of chemicals is addressed as far upstream in the value chain as possible.
To support the toy industry’s efforts to promote robust chemicals management and regulatory compliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has created a toolkit that provides practical guidance.
Developed in collaboration with the Baltic Environment Forum (BEF), the International Chemicals Management Toolkit for the Toy Supply Chain is based on international conventions and/or regional/national legislation. It covers a broad spectrum of Chemicals of Concern (CoCs), including:
- Proven CMRs – carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic
- Emerging concerns – PBT/vPvB** and EDC***
The Toolkit outlines a structured, systematic approach, starting by understanding what chemicals are used and cross-checking them against regulatory requirements. A prioritized action plan, which calls for communication and cooperation in supply chain and analysis to check rather than as the main measure to ensure compliance, is then developed and executed.
The core steps to good chemical management (Source: United Nations)
** Persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic / very persistent, very bioaccumulative
*** Endocrine disrupting
Manufacturing doesn’t have to be damaging. Picking up on popular trends like recycled fashion, many industries are creating new products from old plastics, and gaining more loyal consumers. Some of the world’s biggest toymakers are also taking sustainability very seriously and achieving outstanding results through imaginative initiatives.
Imaginative approaches that reward customers with sustainable products are more than environmentally sensible solutions. They also represent sound business decisions that pay significant long-term dividends for manufacturers and customers alike. These include:
New, more sustainable revenue streams from fiercely loyal customers
|Opportunities||New materials create new product categories that fuel growth and boost bottom line performance|
|Partnerships||Alignment with the sustainability strategies of brands and retailers builds relationships and protects order books|
|Lifestyles||Greener products are compatible with increasing consumer interest in more sustainable ways of living|
|Purpose||A focus on sustainability demonstrates a tangible corporate commitment to being part of the solution, and not a despised environmental enemy|
Expert advice and in-depth industry insight
Sustainability is crucial in terms of creating emotional connection and customer loyalty. TÜV Rheinland’s mission is to ensure that all toys are ‘green toys.’ We are committed to supporting the industry’s transformation to producing safer, high quality toys through employee-friendly, eco-friendly ethical practices and adherence to standards. In practice that means:
- Enabling enterprises to embrace global trends and opportunities
- Providing information to make better business deals
- Engaging with international agencies to promote green toys
- Educating workers about efficient practices
- Working with parents and schools to design and manufacture innovative and sustainable toys
Why TÜV Rheinland?
The toy industry has never been more challenging, especially when it comes to managing chemicals. Many of the world’s best known brands now rely on TÜV Rheinland’s industry-leading, end-to-end Chemical Management solutions. Our rigorously trained, uniquely multi-disciplined team of testing engineers, chemical specialists and expert verifiers can identify the presence, understand the causes and help prevent harmful substances from damaging the health of workers, the environment and the buying public.
TÜV Rheinland covers all sides of the discussion – from chemicals testing to production process analysis, regulatory compliance and customer and consumer requirements. Data is shared transparently across each area, providing a complete business-wide picture.
Our experts can support:
- Social/Labor Due-Diligence
- Life Cycle Analysis
- Chemical Management Training
- Validation of Green Claims
- Capacity Building for the Supply Chain
TÜV Rheinland is an active participant in local, regional and global sustainability forums. From talks organized by chambers of commerce, to international conferences, TÜV Rheinland experts share insights technical, environmental, as well as social aspects of toy manufacturing.
In addition, TÜV Rheinland’s Sustainability Webinar series highlights the latest industry trends and initiatives by policy-makers and retailers.
Enabling Chemicals Management for the Toys Value Chain - Introducing the UNEP & BEF Toolkit
Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes | Actual Webinar Date: 24 March 2022
Today, safety is a pre-requisite for any toy – both for people who play with them and for the environment. That means consumer expectations, regulatory requirements, and investor aspirations must aligned, and any chemicals in products need to be managed.
To help the industry tackle these challenge and ensure chemicals compliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Baltic Environment Forum (BEF), have established a toolkit that offers practical, step-by-step guidance.
During this webinar, we will dive deep into the latest toy industry sustainability trends, explore the potential of better & safer chemicals, and walk through the key steps for building effective capacity for chemical management using the toolkit.
Speakers: Antonia Reihlen, Selbstständig,| Heli Nõmmsalu, Baltic Environmental Forum Estonia | Mats Forkman, Swedish Chemical Agency | Rodney Thu, Hasbro | Rakesh Vazirani, TÜV Rheinland Group