What are the environmental and health criterai you should consider when picking a toy ?
Are toys made from recycled materials a good choice ?
Recyled or recyclable : materials and end of life
Plastics are dominant in toys and they are polluting both in manufacturing and end-of-life management. Initiatives to recycle it are flourishing and we are so happy about it. Yet, recycling a plastic is a limited cycle. There is (still) no endless recycling or decomposition possibilities : at the end of its life, plastics are still a major pollutant. (Many researchers work on those items, and Carbios might be the most exciting one.)
The possibility to recycle a plastic, and in our case toys, depends on the existence of a dedicated industrial sector. This is why recycling instructions vary from a country to antoher. Plastic toys are often made from different layers of materials and this is usually a major limit to their recycling : the technique is complex and not industrialized.
However a toy made from recycling plastic is possible and in strong development. When we started Fabulabox, we took time to study all « ecofriendly » production possibilities in our eco-design of toys study, and two issues led us to prefer biomaterials.
First is the lack of long-term solution for the end-of-life of recycled toys. We cannot guarantee a plastic toy (made in recycled plastic or not) will not become a pollutant for the environment. This is the 1st reason why we chose a biosourced bioplastic that is biodegradable instead of a recycled plastic.
Recyled materials : chemical security at stake
The second issue that led us to prefer biomaterials family (wood, cardboard, bioplastics, rubber…) for our toys is a sanitary one. Up to now, we haven’t been able to identify a recycled plastic company that could guarantee us that each production using their material will be compliant with toys chemicals standards.
In most countries, toy companies have to meet very strict chemical and physical standards to insure children safety. This is why we have our toys tested by an independent body, and then enforce strict specifications with our suppliers, by purchasing the exact same materials : we guarantee the tested toys are identical in shape and components as the sold toys. That is the basis of a quality system for a regulated industry like toys.
Unfortunately, for now, the recycled plastic sector can not guarantee a perfect chemical uniformity for each production. Very simply because each plastic mixed in the pool can have encountered many pollutants and chemicals. This lack of guarantee will require us to finance specific tests prior to every production on large stocks of recycled plastic. Which is impossible both from a financial to a logistic standpoint.
Children security is not negociable. This is why we chose to favor a production made from natural materials only.
You are Fabulous
Each year, we ask ingeneering students to identify and test new materials from a mechanical and chemical standpoint. Our goal is to keep improving our ecological efficiency. We hope one day we will be able to choose perfectly healthy recycled materials. In the meantime, we recommend you to prefer wood, cardboard, bioplastics and other natural materials that bring children and our planet the best protection.