“Changes in the toy sector may appear tiny, but there’s a big shift in mentality in the background” – ToyNews

It was four weeks ago that Toy Industries of Europe named Hasbro among the Gold award winners of its inaugural Play for Change Awards, championing the company’s efforts in propelling the momentum of the sustainability movement across the toy industry with its own Toy Recycling Programme.

Having launched with great success across France and Germany back in 2019, the Toy Recycling Programme was rolled-out across the UK this summer, with the processes now in place to add a number of further countries to its listing. The initiative gained not just media attention, but industry recognition as a progressive and forward-thinking campaign, developed with the desire to better the futures of children across the globe at its core.

Here, ToyNews talks with Rafaela Hartenstein, director of European Government and Regulatory Affairs at Hasbro about the sustainability movement, the firm’s ongoing plans, and whether the toy industry is acting quickly and decisively enough on the issue.

Hello Rafaela, congratulations on the recent award. Can you talk us through the efforts you guys have made in the sustainability movement in recent months and years?

Hasbro has a long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability. In 2019, Hasbro announced an aggressive goal to eliminate virtually all plastic in packaging for new products by the end of 2022, including elements like polybags, elastic bands, shrink wrap, window sheets and blister packs. Currently, at least 90 percent of Hasbro’s paper and board packaging comes from recycled material or from sources that support responsible forestry. 

Leading up to our commitment to plastic-free packaging, we made significant advancements in reducing our packaging impact including the elimination of wire ties in 2010 and PVC in 2013. We also began switching to plant-based bioPET for blister packs and plastic windows in 2018.

In 2018, Hasbro met its goal of reaching virtually 100 per cent (99.75 per cent) renewable energy by supporting renewable energy projects through the purchase of renewable energy certificates and investing in carbon offsets to cover the carbon footprint from our global owned and operated facilities. We continued to meet that goal in 2019. 

In 2018, we launched a new, industry-leading, toy and game recycling program in the contiguous US to ensure the recycling of these products when they come to the end of their lifecycles. Since its launch, Hasbro has expanded the program into Germany, France, Canada, and Brazil and launched in the UK in Q2 2020. We continue to evaluate more countries in Europe for further expansion.  

Why has this been such an important drive for you guys? How do you hope that the efforts you make now will encourage children to carry that message with them as they develop, grow older and apply it to world and environment themselves? 

Our commitment to CSR and sustainability has its roots in our company’s purpose – to make the world a better place for children and their families. People and our planet are at the core of our purpose. This is why we have made Corporate Social Responsibility a business priority.

Hasbro’s deep commitment to CSR reflects our desire to play a part in building a safe and sustainable world for future generations. We strongly believe that we need to work altogether on protecting our planet for future generations and to lead by example. We know consumers share our commitment to protecting the environment, and we want families to feel good knowing that our packaging will be virtually plastic-free, and our products can be easily recycled through our Toy Recycling Program.

Do you think the toy industry is doing enough to drive this sustainability movement – across all aspects including manufacturing and materials sourcing, the messaging of the brands themselves, and the circular economy?

We are all still at the beginning of this sustainability journey, and while there are big challenges ahead, across the industry we already see great examples of how things can become more sustainable and environmental-friendly. However, we need to keep in mind that toy safety always has to come first, and we need to be very sure that any new material we use ensures the same level of safety and compliance that we know from materials we have been using for decades.

But it is not just about new material sourcing: Hasbro’s Toy Recycling Program is a great example of how we can help to handle things differently to add to a more circular economy. By taking back our old product at no cost for the consumer, we prevent “well loved” toys and games to end up as landfill waste. Instead, their high-quality materials are recycled and can turn into other uses, such as flower pots, storage containers or park benches. 

Given the direct impact on children and the future change makers – how seriously is the toy industry taking its role?

Across the past years, it has become very clear that things need to change to protect our planet, and consumers and especially the younger generation is demanding for such change. It may appear as if changes in the toy sector are still tiny, but there is clearly a shift in mentality and in the prioritization of sustainability, and a lot of things are already happening in the background.

The TIE Play for Change Awards have been a great opportunity for the toy sector to highlight all the different initiatives, and to demonstrate the willingness and efforts within the industry.

What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed in the sustainability movement over the past year or two? How is this encouraging your own efforts now? What can be done to speed the process up?

Climate change and plastic pollution have become top on the agenda, and the younger generation is very vocal to ensure these topics get priority also on the political agenda. For Hasbro, this development underlines the efforts we have started more than a decade ago. It re-confirms that we are on the right way, and we are constantly monitoring new technical developments and opportunities to improve our sustainability efforts further. 

What’s the next step or the ongoing plans you have for the movement now?

Every year, the bar is set higher and we believe that every day is a chance to do better. We continue with our industry-leading goal of eliminating all plastic from our packaging by end of 2022.

First products with plastic-free packaging are just starting to hit the shelves. After launching in France and Germany in 2019, we have rolled out our Toy Recycling Program in the UK this summer, and we are working towards adding more countries to the program. We are very proud that this initiative has been awarded now with “Gold” in the TIE Play for Change Awards.

We strive to always act responsibly, and in doing so we find smarter ways of doing business. Our deep commitment to corporate social responsibility inspires us to use our business as a force for good. With a focus on key CSR areas like product safety, environmental sustainability, human rights, ethical sourcing, diversity and inclusion, and community, we’re building a safer, more sustainable and inclusive company and world for all.

For a more comprehensive overview of Hasbro’s CSR program, we encourage everyone to visit our CSR website at www.csr.hasbro.com

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