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Mattel Wants Consumers’ Old Toys — And For a Good Reason

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Are there toys in the attic? If so, Mattel Inc. wants them.

The company has launched a toy take-back program it says will enable families to extend their Mattel toys’ lives once they are finished playing with them. The new program, “Mattel PlayBack,” is designed to recover and reuse materials from old Mattel toys for future Mattel products, and supports the company’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all products and packaging by 2030.

“Mattel toys are made to last and be passed on from generation to generation,” said Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer for the El Segundo, Calif.-based company. “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.”

To participate in the Mattel PlayBack program, consumers can visit Mattel.com/PlayBack, print a free shipping label, and pack and mail their outgrown Mattel toys back to Mattel. The toys collected will be sorted and separated by material type and responsibly processed and recycled. For materials that can’t be repurposed as recycled content in new toys, Mattel PlayBack will either downcycle those materials or convert them from waste to energy. At launch, the program will accept Barbie, Matchbox and MEGA toys for recycling with other brands to be added in the future.

“We are committed to managing the environmental impact of our products,” added Pamela Gill-Alabaster, global head of sustainability at Mattel. “The Mattel PlayBack program helps parents and caregivers ensure that materials stay in play and out of landfills. It is one important step we’re taking to address the growing global waste challenge.”

Last year, Mattel said it introduced several toys as part of its goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all products and packaging by 2030, including the Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack and Fisher-Price Baby’s First Blocks, made from bio-based plastics, three MEGA Bloks sets made from bio-based plastics, and UNO Nothin’ But Paper, the first fully recyclable UNO deck without cellophane packing materials.

Last month, Mattel also announced “Drive Toward a Better Future,” its product roadmap to make all Matchbox die-cast cars, playsets and packaging with 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials by 2030, and unveiled the Matchbox Tesla Roadster, its first die-cast vehicle made from 99% recycled materials and certified CarbonNeutral, available in 2022.

Mattel PlayBack will initially be available in the U.S. and Canada. The program will extend to France, Germany and the United Kingdom through third-party recycling partners.

Mattel said programs like Mattel PlayBack are an integral part of its broader sustainability strategy and efforts to teach children about the importance of protecting the planet. Mattel PlayBack also supports the company’s ongoing commitment to advance a circular economy.

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