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The bottom line: Why businesses need to take the ‘sustainable’ hit now

Trudi Bishop returns to the pages of ToyNews to promote the message of sustainability within the industry, this time with a call to action for the toy makers that any hit taken in the short term will pay off in the long.

The groundbreaking movement by the young environmentalist Greta Thurnberg with the now global “School Strike 4 Climate” and the “Extinction Rebellion” has made governments and businesses sit up and take notice of the climate catastrophe we are facing.

English, Welsh and Scottish governments have now declared a climate emergency, which will hopefully be followed by solid action to make swift changes to policies affecting all aspects of society. Businesses are beginning to react making some products from recycled goods and using raw materials from more sustainable sources. We are seeing collaborations in the clothing and footwear industry in particular with shoes made from recycled water bottles.

The recycling company, Terracycle, is creating ways to recycle products that most recycling centres are unable to process, such as toothpaste tubes, crisp packets and toy packaging. Some toy companies (primarily in the US) have signed up to its recycling scheme.

All these steps are great but they are only a toe in the water. We still have an addiction to plastic, and we cannot recycle our way of the problem.

Ever since China put in place “Operation National Sword” banning most plastic waste, (India has since followed), countries that previously exported their waste have ended up stockpiling or sending the waste to countries whose infrastructure cannot cope. We’re now polluting the poor. Recycling is both costly in money and energy and should be used as a last resort.

I read in another publication that companies need to do more ‘story-telling’ and marketing to convince consumers to buy sustainable products.

I disagree. This kind of thinking, along with toyco’s asking consumers to recycle their excessive packaging, is putting all the guilt on them to make the better choice.

It is ticking the CSR box for shareholders and not acting in a truly responsible way.

Businesses: take the hit now. Create only from sustainable resources, design out excess packaging and don’t give us the “choice”. Manufacturers need to take the lead, and take the hit in the short term, so we have a world that our consumers can live in.

It’s time we thought differently about growth, waste and being truly sustainable and more responsible as an industry.

About Robert Hutchins

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