With Wal-Mart now stocking its store shelves with more toys made from natural or recycled materials, it may help propel “green” toy sales to a $1-billion market or as much as 5 percent of toy sales in the next five years, according to environmental research firm Earthsense, reports BusinessWeek.
Catherine Fox-Simpson, a retail consultant at BDO Seidman told BusinessWeek that interest in toys is following the trend of household cleaning and personal-care products.
The top U.S. toy fair, held earlier this year, featured a green pavilion to showcase environmentally-friendly toys for the first time, which indicates that the industry may be ready to make a big splash in the environmentally-friendly toy market.
However, higher prices for these sustainable toys are holding back more sales. But Melissa O’Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said the retailer may change that trend. She said more shoppers are buying Garanimals blocks — made by Garan — and puzzles made with wood from renewable forests. Other popular toys include plush animals from Dan Dee International made from recycled plastic bottles.
Industry retail analysts told BusinessWeek that as Wal-Mart adds more green toys, others are expected to follow the biggest toy seller into the market. They also said that Mattel and Hasbro, the two biggest U.S. toy companies, may produce eco-toys of their own, while Wham-O bought Sprig Toys earlier this year to add eco-friendly products to its line-up.
Mattel is working on reducing the size and amount of materials used in its packaging as well as increasing the recycled content of its packaging.
Mattel also was named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” in 2010 by the Ethisphere Institute, reports Market Watch. Companies are evaluated on several factors including code of ethics, litigation and regulatory infraction histories, investment in innovation and sustainable business practices, corporate citizenship, and industry nominations from senior executives, industry peers, suppliers and customers.
Hasbro topped the Climate Count’s survey last year on the toy industry’s actions to reduce its impact on climate change.
Education.com released a list of 14 green toys that it recommends for Earthy Day 2010 for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school age children.