Our World and Plastic
“If current trends in plastic production and waste management continue, the plastic debris housed in landfills and natural environments — currently 4.9 billion metric tons — will more than double by 2050”
– PBS News Hour
Much of the plastic we use in our daily lives is not degradable and therefore just sits in landfills, in oceans, etc. Reducing our plastic consumption has become a global concern. Not only does the amount of plastic filling our oceans greatly impact our sea creatures, plastic in consumer products has begun to show negative health risks in humans.
“Plastic has been found in more than 60% of all seabirds and in 100% of sea turtles species, that mistake plastic for food…Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.”
Exposure to plastic additives effect our health involving fertility, neuro-development, thyroid function and even cancer. Many additives remain untested.
Trying to solve the problem
There’s no easy way to get plastic out of our lives, but a good first push is getting rid of single use plastics. Restaurants like Starbucks and McDonald’s have been some of the leading businesses in this initiative. With McDonald’s removing plastic straws from its UK and Ireland restaurants and Starbucks beginning to phase out plastic straws world wide with an end date of 2020 in site.
Toy companies, a huge plastic producing industry, with 90% of toys being made from plastic, are beginning to do their part as well. Even if the world as a whole was better about recycling, plastic toys are often not purely plastic and therefore can’t be recycled. So finding ways to recycle toy packaging, or making toys from eco-material is vitally important.
If you’ve ever opened an LOL Surprise doll or seen anyone else do so, you know that not only is the ball plastic wrapped in plastic, each of the 5 individual surprises inside said ball are in their own plastic bags as well. Watch my video above to get a good idea of all the plastic that goes into this packaging.
To be honest, when I first saw LOL’s announcement in March I assumed all their packaging going forward was going to be biodegradable and I was hyped. That assumption was very short cited considering they’re telling consumers to save their current packaging. Spoiler, they’re not changing their packing at all, but they are offering a way to recycle it with their Terracycle partnership. In no way is this a full on answer to the problem, but it’s a good first step, and move in the right direction.
I will note, that while the 2 following brands seems to have made sustainability a top priority, it seems MGA is simply responding to customer complaints about packaging waste. But only time will tell if they’ll continue this trend through their other toy lines.
Hasbro may just be leading the toy industry in sustainability. They’re the 3rd largest toy maker in the world and earned #3 in Newsweek’s 2017/2018 U.S. Green rankings.
Since 2002, Hasbro has been pushing for more sustainability in their toy production, yet they say it’s been on the top of their minds since throughout their whole 100 years in business. With a focus on their products and packaging, they launched the Sustainability Center of Excellence in 2016. They have LEED certified facilities, and yet still a long way to go with their plastic usage. They’ve been upfront that they’ve experience issues with decreasing their plastic consumption while still meeting toy safety standards, but has said their is more news to come on this front. Their packaging windows however has been switched out from PVC, to recyclable PET.
LEGO however has announced plans to reduce their eco-footprint by 2030. I’m late to the game on this because they launched their first non-plastic building materials in 2018, starting with trees, bushes and leaves. Instead of plastic, they’re using a sugarcane based bio-plastic. Weirdly enough, sugarcane ethanol can be used as a substitute for petroleum. In their partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, they plan to continue to expand their production of these eco-blocks. As of right now, they’re producing between 1-2% of their overall product with bioplastic.
This drive isn’t new for LEGO as they’ve previously invested $165 million in sustainable material research. They also power 100% of their operations with renewable energy.
Toy companies, and companies in general, still have a long way to go on the road to being green. LEGO, Hasbro and MGA Entertainment are on the right path with their initiatives however and hopefully their successes will convince other industries to follow suit.
- LEGO Will Start Selling Sustainable, Plant-Based Blocks This Year, Global Citizen, 3/2/18
- FIRST SUSTAINABLE LEGO® BRICKS WILL BE LAUNCHED IN 2018, LEGO, 3/1/18
- LOL Surprise Global Recycling Day Facebook Announcement, 3/18/19
- LOL Surprise Earth Day Facebook Announcement, 4/22/19
- MGA ENTERTAINMENT, TERRACYCLE TEAM UP FOR L.O.L. SURPRISE PACKAGE RECYCLING, The Toy Book, 3/19/19
- Humans have made 8.3 billion tons of plastic. Where does it all go?, PBS News Hour, 1/19/17
- The Problem with Plastic, Ocean Conservancy
- Does Plastic Make Us Sick?, Plastic Health Coalition
- There’s A Huge Problem With Kids’ Toys That No One’s Talking About, HuffPost, 5/10/17
- AT HASBRO, SUSTAINABILITY IS ESSENTIAL TO CHILD’S PLAY, Newsweek, 12/14/17
- GREEN RANKINGS 2017, Newsweek, 2/13/18