Plastic-free why?

For @plasticfreejuly, we promised to share the why, what, where, and how of plastic-free toys. Sadly, 90% of toys are plastic...why's that bad?⁣

1. The destruction and pollution of extracting/refining the oil to make the plastic. This alone is 3/4 of LEGO's carbon footprint. To absorb the CO2 released by the $80 billion of plastic toys made globally each year would need 1 billion new trees*;

2. Some plastics (e.g., PVC) and some chemicals that make them (e.g., phthalates), are toxic and even carcinogenic.
  • A 2017 test by 4 EU countries of 104 Chinese-made toys found illegal levels in over 30%.
  • A 2017 report by ProSafe shows 17 EU and EEA authorities checked 255 toys and 20% failed, with phthalates the most common chemical found. Here's the breakdown:
    • Plastic dolls – of 121 samples, 33 failed;
    • Bath/squeezable toys – of 30 samples, 7 failed;
    • Plastic books – of 34 samples, 0 failed; and
    • Inflatable toys – of 70 samples, 10 failed.
3. Most plastic toys are mixed materials and can't be recycled --> destined for landfill.⁣

So it's clear that in the future, toys like everything else will need to move-on from new plastic. Watch this space for more on what, where, and how!⁣
Why is it important to choose plastic-free toys?90% of toys are plasticIt'd take 1 billion trees to absorb the carbon released by producing new plastic toysPVC and phthalates in molded plastic toys are toxic even carcinogenicMost plastic toys are mixed materials so can't be recycled
* Here's how we estimated this:
  • Global toy production is $90 billion (source: Statistica)
  • 90% of new toys are new plastic (source: Plastics Europe, association of plastics manufacturers)
  • Average kg of plastic per $ spent on toys is 0.05, based on a sample from
  • Producing 1 kg new plastic emits 6 kg CO2:
    • Producing 1 kg of polyethylene (PET or LDPE) requires 2 kg of oil for energy and raw material (see here); and
    • Burning 1 kg of oil creates about 3 kg CO2 (see offline carbon footprint calculator).
    • 2 kg oil * (3 kg CO2 per kg oil) = 6 kg CO2 per kg new plastic
  • 1 tree can absorb 22 kg of CO2 per year (source: Carbonify)
  • $90 billion * 90% * 0.05 kg/$ * 6 / 22 kg = 1.1 billion trees

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