Member Focus: The British Toy and Hobby Association lead the way on toy recycling circular economy project!

20th December 2022

Katie Smith

Nationally recognised representative of UK toy industry spearheads research project to mitigate the end-of-life environmental impact of toys, focusing on plastic waste & electrical toy take-back schemes..

Background

The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) was established in 1944 to represent the interests of British toy manufacturers and to raise standards of practice in the industry. With almost 150 members ranging from international toy giants to small family-run businesses, the BTHA are there to support their members and promote best practices and excellence in all aspects of product design, toy safety, ethical manufacturing, environmental issues, and responsible marketing. The BTHA also administers the Toy Trust, the industry’s charity, and organises several events including the Toy Fair, the UK’s largest dedicated toy trade exhibition.

Comply Direct partnered with The British Toy & Hobby Association in early 2018, to offer mutual benefits for both Comply Direct and BTHA members. The strong alignment in company values and overlapping member base has allowed both businesses to better support their members on relevant news and updates that impact them, leading to a strong collaborative partnership.

Companies who are members of both parties, including Brainstorm, Character Options, Vivid Imaginations and Playmobil UK, benefit from BTHA’s representation within the toy industry and Comply Direct’s wide range of environmental services, ensuring compliance with relevant producer obligations with the opportunity to tackle other voluntary environmental initiatives.

The Opportunity

Promoting sustainability is a core part of the work at the BTHA. Their members already make an annual commitment to reduce their environmental impact across product and packaging design, production, and distribution wherever possible.

With the move towards a circular economy becoming increasingly important to help combat climate change, these principles of designing waste and pollution out of the system and keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible are key to the next steps of the BTHA’s sustainability guidance. They approached Comply Direct, looking to develop end-of-life solutions specifically for plastic and Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) waste toys.

These are extremely challenging material streams to process, due to their commonly complicated forms, multi material formats and huge diversity. To optimise end-of-life solutions for toys proactively, the project reviewed the entire life cycle of a toy, applying the waste hierarchy and identifying areas for action to promote circularity and resource efficiency.

The Solution

The project looked at toy design phases, which is most important when improving circularity. For toys, the analysis of the product design, the purpose and the wider marketing approach were all considered, highlighting best practices and new innovations or technologies applicable to material choices or recyclability, for example. Toy reuse was also considered within the project, reviewing the BTHA’s existing findings, resources, and wider industry literature helping to identify how to promote greater toy reuse and how to support members in educating consumers around the importance of reuse.

Comply Direct then looked towards end-of-life, assessing current UK solutions such as existing recycling schemes or projects. The application of industry knowledge and experience with reprocessors was provided by Comply Direct’s procurement team, which supported the completion of research into developing a nationwide toy recycling scheme, identifying potential partners and challenges of toy recycling.

The Results

For all areas of the project Comply Direct identified key enablers and barriers to progress, while highlighting a range of short to long term actions for the BTHA to complete. The findings were published into a report and presented through a summary presentation to the BTHA’s sustainability committee. Phase 2 of the project will continue in 2023, as BTHA hope to action all short-term recommendations from design to end-of-life with Comply Direct’s maintained support.

The BTHA’s thoughts on the project

“I would like to thank the Comply Direct team for producing such a comprehensive report that helped us to understand the main opportunities and risks for applying the principles of a circular economy in the UK toy industry. We found the range of recommended potential actions, from short to long term, most helpful to support us in taking this work forward in 2023.”

Head of Public Affairs at the BTHA

The BTHA’s Sustainability Committee’s thoughts on our service

“Comply Direct has supported the work of the British Toy & Hobby Association’s Sustainability Committee since 2019. The Association, and our members can rely on Comply Direct to be up to speed on the latest environmental policy developments and helping to put together accessible and practical guidance for members. This service has been vital in helping us to keep on top of a growing policy and regulatory landscape following Brexit.”

Sustainability Committee Chairman at the BTHA

For enquiries around our sustainability services please contact our solutions team at solutions@complydirect.com.