Mattel Launches Toy Recycling Program 'PlayBack'

by Rudy Sanchez on 05/12/2021 | 2 Minute Read

Children grow up fast, which means they also outgrow their things quickly as well, including toys. Sometimes hoarding those playthings ends up becoming collector catnip and worth some cash, but for the most part, when the kiddos abandon their toys, they aren’t worth much. Toys aren’t generally recyclable, as they usually get made with a mishmash of mixed materials. Inevitably, many of them end up in landfills as trash, adding more plastic to the pile.

Now, toymaker Mattel wants to divert many of its old toys from the landfill with a new recycling program called PlayBack. Starting with Barbie, Matchbox, and MEGA toys, Mattel will take used items from these brands in any condition, with or without packaging, and pay for the postage. Customers can request a shipping USPS or Canadian Post shipping label to use, although they still need to BYOB a box-surely you have one from Amazon lying around). Once you've done that, affix the label and handoff to the relevant postal service. Depending on a few factors, recyclable material will be harvested from the toys to make new products. If that’s not possible, the manufacturer will downcycle the sent items to be recycled and used to make other plastic products or converted to energy.

Editorial photograph

“Mattel toys are made to last and be passed on from generation to generation,” said Richard Dickson, Mattel president and chief operating officer, in a press release. “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.”  

Available initially in the US and Canada, the firm says programs in the UK, France, and Germany will launch shortly.

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