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Barbie Beats Packaging Sustainability Target

In 2020, toy champ Mattel exceeded its environmental goal for paperboard packaging. To celebrate, the company is upping its game.

Lisa McTigue Pierce

October 14, 2021

3 Min Read
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Barbie Loves the Ocean, its first fashion doll line made from recycled ocean-bound plastic in June, is sold in plastic-free packaging, made from recycled FSC-certified material. Barbie is a brand of Mattel.Photo supplied by Mattel

Mattel sourced 97% recycled fiber content or content certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) last year for its products and packaging, as validated by international non-profit organization Rainforest Alliance. This exceeds the company’s goal made initially in 2011 and updated over the last decade to contain and maintain 95% recycled content or FSC-certified content in the paper and wood fiber used in its products and packaging.

So now the company is expanding its commitment to fiber sustainability through a partnership with non-profit American Forests. A new reforestation Tree Equity program addresses tree inequity in Los Angeles, near Mattel’s headquarters. According to the company: “Low-income neighborhoods across the country are often situated in areas where trees are sparse, preventing them from reaping the numerous benefits trees provide. This partnership program with American Forests is nature positive and provides city-dwelling communities with an improved infrastructure of trees, aiming to improve quality of life. The inequitable distribution of trees in cities exacerbates social inequities.”

For its achievements in FSC-certified fiber use and its commitment to responsible forest management, Mattel has earned FSC’s 2021 Leadership Award.

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Pamela Gill-Alabaster, Head of Global Sustainability for Mattel, in a press release about these announcements, said, “Responsible and sustainable sourcing is a critical component of our updated ESG [Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance] strategy, and Mattel packaging teams implement various eco-design and circular economy principles in the development of our products and packaging. Our focus is to develop innovative products and experiences that are better for our world by integrating sustainable materials and principles of product stewardship and circular design.” 

In the same press announcement, Christopher N.H. Schwarz, Manager, Corporate Advisory, at the Rainforest Alliance, said, “The Rainforest Alliance has been proudly collaborating with Mattel on their Responsible Wood/Fiber Procurement Program since 2011. Through our partnership, the company has developed and subsequently improved its sustainable sourcing principles and goals, driven forward responsible sourcing practices of sustainably produced forest materials, and has ever since demonstrated steady progress towards the achievement of its set principles and goals.” 

Mattel is making progress with other initiatives related to packaging sustainability, including:

• Its goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials in all products and packaging by 2030.

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• Barbie Loves the Ocean, its first fashion doll line made from recycled ocean-bound plastic in June, is sold in plastic-free packaging, made from recycled FSC-certified material (see photo above). The material is sourced from 90% of plastics (often discarded packaging) collected within 50 kilometers of waterways.

• Mattel PlayBack, a toy takeback program designed to recover and reuse materials from old Mattel toys for future Mattel products.

• Drive Toward a Better Future, its product roadmap to make all Matchbox die-cast cars, playsets, and packaging with 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials by 2030.

About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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