Mattel PlayBack | Source: Mattel/The Toy Book

Mattel Inc. is taking another step forward toward its sustainability goals with the launch of a new toy takeback program in the U.S. and Canada called Mattel PlayBack.

The recycling initiative seeks to extend the life of Mattel toys as part of a “circular economy” in which the materials contained in Mattel toys can be recovered and reused to create new Mattel toys. While the company still encourages families to donate toys that are in excellent condition to organizations where they may continue to be played with and loved (schools, daycares, hospitals, etc) or passed along to the kids of family and friends, the Mattel PlayBack program is a way to extend the life of the materials once the toys have reached the end of their use.

“Mattel toys are made to last and be passed on from generation to generation,” says Mattel President and Chief Operating Officer Richard Dickson. “A key part of our product design process is a relentless focus on innovation, and finding sustainable solutions is one significant way we are innovating. Our Mattel PlayBack program is a great example of this, enabling us to turn materials from toys that have lived their useful life into recycled materials for new products.”

Mattel PlayBack | Source: Mattel/The Toy Book

Related: State of the Industry Q&A 2021: Mattel

At the start, Mattel will accept products from its Barbie, Matchbox, and Mega Brands portfolio into the PlayBack program. Consumers can visit the Mattel website to print a free shipping label that they can use to mail toys to Mattel at no cost. Once received, the toys will be sorted and separated by material type and responsibly processed and recycled. For materials that cannot be repurposed as recycled content in new toys, Mattel PlayBack will either downcycle those materials into other plastic products or convert them from waste to energy.

Mattel is moving toward an overarching goal to use 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials across all of its products and packaging by 2030.

The company recently debuted its Drive Toward a Better Future sustainability program for the Matchbox brand and has issued sustainable updates to several products. Mattel Games’ UNO Nothin’ But Paper is the first recyclable UNO deck produced without cellophane in its packaging; and a range of toys from Fisher-Price and Mega Bloks are being made from bio-based plastics.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.