Going green in the Big Apple

Sustainability comes into sharp focus at Toy Fair New York, with goals to reduce unnecessary waste and help all in the toy industry adapt to shifting consumer expectations in the on-going mission to go green

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 11.12.2019 | Business

Going green in the Big Apple thumbnail

About 30,000 global attendees – and upwards of 100,000 toys and games – descend upon New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center each February for Toy Fair New York. Now entering its 117th year, the marketplace continues to hold its spot as the largest toy show in the Western Hemisphere, and with that position comes great responsibility on behalf of show management, partners, and attendees to reduce the overall environmental impact of the event.

Marian Bossard, Executive Vice President of Global Market Events at The Toy Association, says its sustainability goals are "two-fold". 

Plans are in place "to implement programs that improve Toy Fair New York’s sustainability (for example, better waste management, the collection and donation of leftover booth materials, an expanded compost program, and so on), and a year-round commitment to helping toy companies make their products, packaging, and manufacturing practices more sustainable."

At Toy Fair New York, the top priority and biggest challenge is to improve waste diversion, and great strides have been made in that area. In 2019, major improvements included prioritizing the collection and recycling of cardboard for show move-in and move-out; a dedicated area was established for overflow of cardboard to be placed during the show; housekeeping staff was placed at compactors to monitor contents being placed inside; certain materials discarded by exhibitors were collected and placed in the building’s donation area; recyclable carpet was used in show aisles; food services improved compost collection; certain show signage was made from recycled materials; and 400-plus pallets were collected for reuse.

Advancements in waste diversion and overall sustainability practices are expected for Toy Fair 2020, including further engagement and education of attendees and exhibitors on how they can be more sustainable while at the show. Metrics to determine the show’s current sustainability practices and future goals and objectives are based on the APEX Event Sustainability Standard and the ISO 20121 standard.

Beyond Toy Fair, The Toy Association encourages its members to take sustainability into account at all levels of production and create toys with reduced environmental impact.

“Despite studies indicating that toy packaging accounts for less than one per cent of the typical annual household’s waste stream, the toy industry has a perception issue, where parents look at all of the discarded packaging from toys at the holidays and think of toys as overly packaged and not especially sustainable,” says Alan Kaufman, Senior Vice President of Technical Affairs at The Toy Association.

“But no matter how small the industry’s contribution to a more sustainable world may be, all industries have an obligation to do what they can and, in that regard, we have developed multiple member tools to assist companies in reducing the environmental footprints of their products.”

The Toy Association has commissioned white papers on more sustainable manufacturing, created a database of packaging and product materials and their associated environmental footprints to encourage selection of less-impactful materials, and most recently helped create a tool to rate packaging designs on recyclability, material usage, and other factors and benchmark them against others in the industry producing the same product category.

At Toy Fair New York, The Toy Association also hosts seminars geared toward professionals looking for the latest information to improve sustainability. Information about all educational session at the show are still being ironed out, with details to be announced soon. Be sure to visit www.ToyFairNY.com for more information in the weeks to come.

Nearly 30,000 global toy and play professionals are expected to descend on Toy Fair New York 2020 (22-25 February) to interact with more than 1,000 exhibiting toy companies from six continents. To learn more about the latest show details, including events, registration, exhibitors, educational programming, hotel bookings, and more, visit www.ToyFairNY.com or download the free Toy Fair Mobile App.

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