Mattel Announces PlayBack — a New Toy Takeback Recycling Program

By McKenzie Carpenter Monday, May 10, 2021

Mattel, a global toy company, announced its new toy takeback recycling initiative, Mattel PlayBack.

A box of Mattel toys ready to be shipped back.

Mattel PlayBack

Mattel, a leading global toy business for children and family entertainment, announced the launch of Mattel PlayBack. This new program will allow families to send in used toys once their children are done with them so that the parts from the old toys can be used to create new ones.

This recovery and reuse program supports the greater mission of the business to achieve 100% recyclable, recycled, or bio-based plastic materials across all products and packaging by 2030. This company mission is meant to educate children on the importance of protecting the environment and increase sustainability efforts.

For parents to get involved in the Mattel PlayBack program, they simply go online to print a shipping label, pack their toys, and send them directly to the business. From there, the toys will be sorted by material type so that they are properly recycled for future toys. In addition, the company claims that materials from toys that cannot be recycled or repurposed will be downcycled or converted to energy. Downcycling refers to the recycling of waste where the recycled material is of a lower quality or functionality than that of the original material.

Richard Dickson, president and COO of the business, said in a statement, “Mattel toys are made to last and be passed on from generation to generation...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.”

Currently, the program created by the company is only accepting toys under the Barbie, Matchbox, and MEGA brands. Additionally, the program is only available in the United States (US) and Canada. The business stated that the program will be extended into France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK) through its third-party recyclers. Furthermore, the company plans to accept toys from other Mattel brands in the future.

The new PlayBack program follows shortly after the company announced its Drive Toward a Better Future commitment that all Matchbox die-cast cars, playsets, and packaging will support Mattel’s overarching 2030 sustainability goal. The business introduced select toys last year that were made from completely recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials and packaging.

The Toy Industry

With names like Mattel, Hasbro, and Lego dominating the toy and game market, it comes as no surprise how large the global industry is. The global toys and games market size valued at $101.5 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2019 to 2025.

In the US, toy sales reached $25.1 billion in 2020 — a 16% increase compared to 2019. 2020 saw spikes in May, October, and December of last year that correlate with the months the first COVID-19 relief federal stimulus check was distributed, Amazon Prime Day, and the holiday season.

About the Author


Headshot of McKenzie Carpenter

McKenzie Carpenter is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations and French. McKenzie has previously worked for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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