We love Legos just as much as the next design-savvy mom, but we’re sad to hear the likely source of the packaging for our favorite colorful bricks. A new report from Greenpeace links popular toy packaging to large-scale rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Based on investigations and forensic evidence, which found traces of acacia fiber and mixed-tropical hardwood (MTH) in the packaging, the report alleges that toy industry bigwig Mattel works with Asia Pulp & Paper (AAP) a brand that sources from several companies linked to the destruction of rainforests in Sumatra.
Greenpeace says AAP is driving the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, which are home to critically-endangered Sumatran tigers and elephants, and Mattel and other toy makers are supporting the problem. AAP is the largest pulp and paper company in Indonesia and known for making what they call “luxury packaging,” easily recognized as — glossy cardboard. Worse yet, while many companies in the packaging sector use recycled pulp, AAP uses virgin fiber for its high-quality packaging. WWF-Indonesia says hundreds of thousands of hectares of Sumatran rainforests are controlled by AAP’s subsidiaries.
While other types of brands and products (food, drinks, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, etc.) source paper from AAP, Greenpeace says they started targeting the toy industry since it’s “a highly visible example of consumer brands that use a lot of glossy packaging.” Greenpeace has discovered Mattel is using the Indonesian rainforest timber in packaging for Barbie products and Disney-branded merchandise along with Hasbro and Lego toy packaging. The Rainforest Action network recently targeted Disney’s children’s book packaging, which is also allegedly sourced from AAP. Greenpeace only tested certain products, so it’s hard to tell how many of the brand’s toys are sold in AAP’s packaging. But the fact is that many toys are manufactured in China, and much of the packaging from China and Indonesia is linked back to AAP and Indonesian rainforest destruction.
So what can you do? Build up your kid’s Lego collection from secondhand shops and hand-me-downs and keep buying from smart green toy brands that use eco-friendly recycled packaging like Plan Toys, Green Toys, Sprig, and local designers who may use no packaging at all.
Lead image © Tracheotomy Bob