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Mattel’s takeback program wants to recycle your old toys

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Mattel Playback

Remember your Matchbox, Barbie dolls, and the Mega Bloks that you outgrew some years back? Mattel wants to extend their lives and empty the landfill.

Mattel PlayBack is a pilot program designed to collect and recycle all the old toys stored and gathering dust in laundry baskets in a basement.

For 76 years, Mattel has been manufacturing toys for kids, but they have now outgrown them. Its strategy was to make toys that would be passed from one generation to the other, but because they have lived their useful life the toy company has decided to recycle these materials for future sustainable products.

The company’s current program is to guide it to a sustainability-focused future. It had previously committed to producing and packaging its products with 100% bio-based plastic or recyclable materials by 2030. Mattel global head of sustainability, Pamela Gill Alabaster, said this program is a step they are “taking to address the growing global waste challenge.”

You can participate in the program for free by visiting its website, printing a free shipping label and sending these old toys to Mattel. You can also request a shipping label over the phone if you don’t have a printer or computer.

Once delivered, the company will sort and separate toys based on the type of material and then process them.

However, certain materials can’t be recycled or repurposed into new toys. In that case, Mattel will downcycle them into other plastic products. It can also turn them from waste to energy which is an excellent opportunity to empty landfill and learn from the circular model.

The program will begin by collecting toys from three brands: Mega, Matchbox, and Barbie toys. It will include other brands at a later date.

Mattel will first roll the program in the US and Canada. Another PlayBack program will be done in collaboration with a third-party partner in France, the UK and Germany.

In 2020, a similar program was done in Canada in partnership with TerraCycle, located in New Jersey. This recycling company focused on MEGA toys.

For many decades, many toy companies have been making and packaging products from plastic material which is destructive to the environment. However, they have changed their strategy and are now making eco-friendly toys.

The switch is to help tackle climate change and align their marketing strategies with consumers who are increasingly demanding environmentally responsible products.

Further plastic disposal has contributed to plastic accumulation and clogging in rivers, lakes, and oceans, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions which has devastating effects on our planet.

Some of Mattel toys made from bio-based products are Fisher price products such as Baby’s First Blocks and Rock-a-Stack, as well as three Mega Blocks.

The toy company has planned to launch the first die-cast vehicle Matchbox, Tesla Roadster, in 2022. The toy is not only 99% recycled materials, but it’s also certified CarbonNeutral.

Mattel will not take non-Mattel brands, but if these toys are in good condition, they can be donated to charities or passed on to friends. This will keep them out of landfills.

Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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