A campaign led by a young consumer for publishers to stop giving away disposal plastic toys has inspired Waitrose to ban magazines with single-use plastic toys in a significant move to reduce waste.
"While we know these magazines are popular with children, some of the unnecessary plastic attached to them has become excessive," says Marija Romani, partner, director, ethics and sustainability, Waitrose. "Many in the younger generation care about the planet and are the ones inheriting the problem of plastic pollution. We urge publishers to find alternatives and other retailers to follow our lead in ending the pointless plastic that comes with children's magazines."
This initiative follows the retailer's ban of Christmas Crackers with disposable plastic toys from 2020 onward. Waitrose is also tackling single-use plastic across its entire business and is on track to make all own-label packaging widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2023.
Waitrose is also now urging publishers to produce sustainable alternatives to replace the toys on offer. One initiative working toward that goal is Wastebuster, and its Recycle to Read campaign.
Working in tandem with The Pod – in association with Products of Change and EPICC – Wastebuster is building a new program to combine the efforts of industry, government and readers to promote responsible consumption and production.
"Wastebuster has been working with children's magazine publishers for the last two years on a sustainable solution for their products," says Katy Newnham, founder, Wastebuster. "The Recycle to Read program has been developed by a not-for-profit environmental education and recycling campaign platform in response to the call to action from the publishers.
The program will build a new recycling infrastructure for hard-to-recycle plastic toys, collectively funded by the industry. It will promote waste reduction, reuse, and recycling with schools and consumer-facing environmental education campaign, while rewarding participating schools and communities with books and reading materials to improve children's literacy."
The program's ultimate goal is to provide research to the industry and support the transition into more sustainable product design and practices.
With more retailers moving toward responsible products than traditional single-use plastics and initiatives like Wastebuster and Products of Change fueling industry-wide change, the future is forming in small, significant, and essential steps.
Products of Change are curating content and webinars for day two of License Global's Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit, June 9-11. For more information on how to tune in and gain the most from sustainability, content and current trends, click here.