Reducio Plastico: Hasbro’s Plastic-Free Packaging
Environmental scholars Robert Cox and Phaedra Pezzullo write in their book Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere the best way to create support for environmental campaigns is for famous people and well-known companies to become spokespeople for that change. The Harry Potter cast is exemplary at using their celebrity status to promote environmental causes. Evanna Lynch’s cruelty-free makeup line and animal rights causes and Bonnie Wright’s recycled material swimsuit line and prominence in the campaign to end single-use plastic are prime examples of celebrity endorsement toward environmentalism.
And other companies are joining Wright’s efforts to eliminate plastic, including toy and action figure company Hasbro, famous for being the makers of Furby, Monopoly, and Marvel Legends. Hasbro announced that as part of its corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts, the company will “begin phasing out plastic packaging in its products this year, with a plan to remove nearly all plastic elements from new product packaging by 2022.” This will include things like blister packs (the cavities to fit small parts) and window sheets. By removing plastic packaging, it hopes to decrease its environmental impact since the plastic involved in packaging either takes years upon years to biodegrade or simply never biodegrades at all.
Plastic packaging has been the source of multiple debates in the collector community. One debate that has been simmering for years among collectors is whether or not to open packages: play with the toy or leave it in the package to preserve it and increase its value as time goes by. Some collectors worry that environmentally friendly packaging may remove that choice.
Another debate is around the window sheets. Collectors like to be able to see the product before they purchase it in order to ensure there are no imperfections that would affect its value. Not having windows also leads to concerns over theft. There is already figure swapping, where people will take small unnoticeable parts or completely swap figures and return them to the stores.
Hasbro has not provided more information about the particulars of this plan, worrying collectors. One worry is that using more environmentally friendly packaging will increase the price of already fairly expensive figures (6″ figures run anywhere between $25 and 40). Hasbro’s action also raises the question of if other toy companies will follow. For example, Harry Potter toys and collectibles are made by other companies such as McFarlane, Funko, and Mattel.
At the end of the day, many environmentalists are happy Hasbro has begun to look for ways to reduce its negative environmental impact. Though some would likely argue Hasbro is not doing enough to tackle plastic use, the company’s actions show that it – like Hermione – is “hoping to do some good in the world.”