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Issue 01/2023

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Highlights: Toys Automotive Basics: Amorphous PHA Digital product passports

Toys Changing the world

Toys Changing the world toy by toy I n August 2021 I published “Changing the World TOY BY TOY” [1]. Looking back I’d like to share my impressions and findings about what happened since then. To start, I would say 2022 was a year of contrasts. Industry events – varied awareness 2022 started strong, with the Spielwarenmesse (International Toy Fair, Nuremberg, Germany) selecting sustainability as the megatrend of the year and showcasing it boldly with a prominent speakers programme. However, the sustainability topic was nowhere to be seen in many other industry events throughout the year. Nowhere. Nothing. Sustaina... what? Never heard of that. When it comes to sustainability, different organisations seem to be travelling at different speeds. Lack of long-term strategy / Green claims In 2022, more and more toy brands announced bold sustainability goals. Simultaneously, many companies still don’t have a long-term comprehensive sustainability strategy, which limits environmental and social progress and business competitiveness. In 2021, according to my research, only 13 % of the companies in the toy business had a solid sustainability strategy. In 2022, I didn’t see significant improvement in this area. Often, it feels like “a lot of fuss for just baby steps”. Don’t get me wrong; baby steps are welcome! However, it’s better not to oversell them and remember that baby steps must become significant steps at some point (better soon than later). This “overselling green claims” is not unique to this industry. It’s easy to spot in all sectors. False green claims or greenwashing are often unintentional but still mislead the consumer. An international study concluded that 4 out of 10 green claims were misleading. So far, there is no specific regulation for green claims – they fall under the different advertisement, competition, and consumer protection regulations in each country. In 2022, companies from all industries had to suspend adverts or modify communication at the competent authorities’ request, which are becoming more and more vigilant. Europe is expecting specific rules on green claims soon. That’s good news because many false claims are not malicious but result from a lack of precise term definitions and guidance. Specific rules would provide a clear framework for brands while protecting the consumer. In the meantime, to stay safe, you can use the UK Green Claims Code’s guidance [2]. Better packaging In 2022, most progress was in two areas: packaging and materials. On the packaging side, a lot of box size optimisation, plastic reduction, and certified paper and cardboard. Congrats to all of you that were able to eliminate the plastic windows! Many of you made a whole box rebump, and they look so much cooler now. Just look at the example in Fig 1. Figure 1 Though my favourite is this one, from Green Toys (Fig 2). The packaging is so minimalistic that you don’t even consider it a proper packaging. Instead of the classic cardboard box, they use just the small cardboard wrapping the car. This cardboard lets most of the toy visible and works as a hanger at the same time. Figure 2 Recycled and biobased plastics Sustainable materials were undoubtedly the hot topic for toy brands in 2022, especially recycled and biobased plastics. Gradually we understand that getting hold of these materials is not as easy as finding a new supplier – it’s more about transforming the whole supply chain to ensure supply and traceability. Biobased plastics are yet scarce and more expensive in many cases, but they minimise the contamination risk that recycled polymers involve. Will they end up being the preferred choice for toys? Or will improvements in recycling technology allow the safe use of recycled plastics for toys? I’m afraid 2022 didn’t provide an answer to this question. Sustainable plastics are still a work in progress and far from being the norm. Still, several brands are leading the way forward, and toys made of these materials are no longer a rarity in toy shops. The bio!TOY 2023 conference (see pp. 14) is becoming the event of reference for sustainable polymers. Don’t miss the next edition in March 2023. 42 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/23] Vol. 18

Opinion Environmental impact assessment ICTI Ethical Toy Program, the reference for the toy industry in the supply chain management area, launched an environmental assessment in 2022, expanding its field of action from the workforce to the environmental impact. It’s worth having a look at it [3]. On the other hand, more and more toy companies have been receiving requests from their distributors, big retailers, and licensors to report data about their environmental performance. Tip: start gathering your data and prepare in advance to look nice in the picture. How? By designing your first sustainability strategy. If you don’t have the time or the skills, no worries, I can help with that. Industry unions Some industry associations show outstanding commitment to supporting their members to navigate sustainability. One of them is AEFJ, the Spanish toy makers association, which celebrated the first Eco Toy Day in September 2022. They organised a comprehensive sustainability training for its members and supported the creation of Juguetes Sostenibles – Red de Aprendizaje y Colaboración (JS-RAC) ([4] – Spanish language only), a network for Spanish-speaking toy brands willing to progress sustainability through collaboration. In another area, Toy Industries of Europe revisited the Play for Change awards criteria to ensure they consider the toy’s overall environmental impact. Legally binding international agreement on plastic pollution I hear it once and again. Many toy makers are willing to develop more sustainable toys. However, a lack of consensus on concept definitions, environmental assessment methodologies, and standardisation slows their progression, as it hinders imagining what a sustainable toy should look like. A robust framework to assess materials and design would help toy companies make bold decisions. The good news is that a correct step forward is being taken. End of 2022, the UN Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee started negotiations for a legally binding international agreement on plastic pollution. This agreement should provide, among many others, precise definitions of concepts such as “life cycle”, “problematic plastics” – a risk assessment framework for plastics and microplastics and guidance on labelling to improve traceability. The goal is to end the negotiation by the end of 2024, so we will need to keep an eye on it and see how it will affect material and design choices. Community learning By: Sonia Sánchez Impact & Sustainability Consultancy London, UK Sonia Sánchez is an independent sustainability consultant based in London, UK. She specialises in simplifying and accelerating the sustainability journey for toy companies. Last but not least, as a reflection of the increasing sustainability awareness among toy companies, three exciting networking and learning initiatives were launched (or gained traction) in 2022. I invite you to get involved to learn and connect with toy brands and professionals determined to lead the transition towards a sustainable toy industry. • Women in Toys’ Sustainability Learning Community [5] • Juguetes Sostenibles – Red de Aprendizaje y Colaboración [6] • Products of Change [7] Looking forward to getting in touch with you, or – even better – meeting you in Nuremberg for the Spielwarenmesse in February and/or at the bio!TOY in March. [1] Sánchez, S.: Changing the World – TOY BY TOY, [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/23] Vol. 18 43

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