Mattel wants you to send back your toys when you're done with them

Good news for 90s kids who have laundry baskets filled with Barbies in their parents\' basements: Mattel wants to recycle your old toys. Mandatory Credit: Shutterstock
By Alexis Benveniste, CNN Business

    (CNN) -- Good news for 90s kids who have laundry baskets filled with Barbies in their parents' basements: Mattel wants to recycle your old toys.

The 76-year-old toy company is launching a pilot program called "Mattel PlayBack" that is designed to recover and reuse materials in old toys for future Mattel products.

The new effort is the company's latest step toward a sustainability-focused future. Mattel previously committed to using 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all of its products and packaging by 2030.

Consumers can participate in the program by visiting Mattel's website, printing a free shipping label and packing and mailing their toys back to the company. The toys will then be sorted and separated by materialtype and processed and recycled, according to the company. Materials that cannot be repurposed as recycled content in new toys will either be downcycled into other plastic products or converted from waste to energy.

"We get to keep these valuable materials out of a landfill and have the opportunity to learn from the circular model," Pamela Gill-Alabaster, Mattel's global head of sustainability, told CNN Business.

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.

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, a spokesperson for Mattel told CNN Business.

Mattel experimented with a similar program in Canada with it's MEGA toys in 2020 in partnership with TerraCycle, a recycling company based in New Jersey.

The pandemic created an unanticipated surge in demand for toys as parents hunkered down with children at home, and Mattel isn't alone in its efforts. Many large toy companies are trying to become more eco-friendly after decades of relying on environmentally destructive plastic in their products and packaging.

Finding alternatives to plastic is crucial to tackling climate change, and adopting "eco-friendly" marketing is also important for companies as shoppers are increasingly conscious about how their choices affect the planet.

Both the production and discarding of plastic has had devastating effects on the planet, from greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change to clogging waterways and plastic accumulating in oceans.

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