BTHA Members are committed to reducing their environmental impact and that commitment is written into the Code of Practice that members sign every year. As part of that ongoing commitment many members have instigated projects to make their companies and products more sustainable. In addition, the BTHA has engaged the services of environmental specialists to produce a number of special reports and programmes to help members in this important area of their business. The BTHA also works with various groups interested in encouraging sustainable business and undertakes studies and guidance in this area to help to inform and encourage the work that members are already doing.

A study was commissioned in 2012 to investigate levels of toy and hobby packaging in the UK.  Approximately 0.7% of retail packaging that enters the home comes from toys and hobby products. Toy packaging is used to protect toys to ensure children have undamaged, safe toys to play with when they take them out of the box. Packaging also has a promotional function as the outside of the box is used to show what content is in the box and the functionality of the toy (often you will have a “try me” function on electronic toys). Important safety information is also carried on the packaging which is a legal requirement within the EU. It is estimated that up to 90% of toy packaging could be recycled of which 72-73% is presently being recycled.

The BTHA has put together some tips on recycling toy packaging, which is particularly useful on busy days like Christmas Day and birthdays to help to make it as easy as possible to increase the levels of packaging going into kerbside collections.

Whilst looking at the impact of toys on the environment the BTHA has attempted to understand the life that a toy has. Toys are an unusual consumer product in that they are fashion items, but they also hold great sentimental and emotional attachment and are often stored or kept for much longer than other consumer goods. To understand this behaviour the BTHA has undertaken studies to investigate how often toys are reused, passed on or stored away for the future.

Our study of 2000 parents (conducted in 2012) shows that 70% of people pass toys on when their children have finished playing with them with 62% giving them to friends or family and 39% giving them to charity. 31% of parents said that they stored their toys away, either as collectibles or to share with others. 60% of parents said their children had received handed down toys and 45% said they are happy to pass on toys that were passed to them showing that toys have an extended life and are enjoyed by many children as they get passed through friends and family. A follow up qualitative study gave us some detailed insight into our findings and this showed us that the biggest barrier to passing toys on was parents not knowing how to pass them on safety and where to take them. Extending the life of products we have in our households is incredibly important as it has the least impact on the environment and is far better than disposing of them. A child may grow out of a toy that is still in good condition which can bring another little boy or girl enjoyment, so the BTHA has created tips on how to pass toys on safety which you can access here.

Many members of the BTHA have made their own changes and committments on sustainability issues, such as reducing packaging, eliminating wire tires, consolidating collections and deliveries to save fuel and working with suppliers to introduce lower energy processes in production facilities to name just a few. To help members the BTHA has a number of guidance documents and programmes which have been specifically commissioned for use by members, which can be accessed, along with more detailed reports mentioned above, by BTHA members here.