Toy giant Hasbro has enlisted its iconic My Little Pony brand to boost its green cred, and the company isn’t shy about connecting the dots between sustainability and bottom line benefits. Part of the plan involves shrinking the footprint of My Little Pony’s packaging, which will have a direct impact on the cost of shipping the toy from factory to consumer. Nerf and Play-Doh are two other well-known Hasbro brands included in the initiative.
The move could also give Hasbro an edge on marketing to green-minded parents. Sustainable toys are a small but growing part of the market, and by making a few adjustments Hasbro might just prove that its possible to break down the wall between mainstream toys and sustainable alternatives.
My Little Pony in a more sustainable package
This year, Hasbro expects to improve its product-to-packaging ratio by an average about 15 percent among the products included in the initiative. Additional improvements will be rolled out within the next two years.
It’s important to note that the initiative only applies to disposable packages, such as the notorious blister packs, which explains why products like My Little Pony, Nerf and Play-Doh are priorities. Boxed games are not included in this particular initiative, since the box serves a two-for-one purpose as a shipping package and a permanent storage container.
On the road to mainstream, sustainable toys
Hasbro’s line of boxed games – which includes Monopoly - lends itself to sustainable packaging through the use of recycled materials, and that is where the company’s broader sustainability efforts could come into play.
Last year, the company announced that it would phase out PVC in its packaging, and it began to replace wire ties with rattan and bamboo. Hasbro is also well on the way to achieving its goal of deriving 90 percent of its paper packaging materials from reycled or responsibly sourced materials.
Hasbro: Not on the ALEC list
In case you’re wondering, Hasbro does not show up on the last available SourceWatch list of hundreds of companies affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council. This lobbying organization has come under the spotlight for its involvement in promoting controversial legislation, including the undermining of government sustainability initiatives, and green-minded corporations such as PepsicCo and Coca-Cola are beginning to cut their ties.
Hasbro has in fact carved out a pretty good sustainability and corporate social responsibility leadership position for itself. The company has been named among the 2012 World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute - and if you’ve never heard of the Ethisphere Institute, you can settle for Hasbro’s inclusion in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leadership Awards program.
Playing your way to a better tomorrow
Though it might be something of a coincidence, it’s interesting to note that the brands Hasbro has chosen to highlight all bear some relationship to sustainability-related themes: pet ownership, outdoor activity and creativity.
On the other hand, last December Hasbro used G.I. Joe to highlight its sustainability efforts, though given the U.S. military’s interest in energy conservation and clean energy technology it might not be too long before we see G.I. Joe sporting a solar backpack and other clean tech gear.
Another green marketing angle is coming up in May, when Hasbro’s perennially popular Battleship game will provide the backstory for the new Hollywood actioner Battleship: The Movie. The film is set during a real-life international naval exercise called the Rim of the Pacific, which this year will feature the debut launch of the U.S. Navy’s Green Strike Group powered by biofuels and other alternative energy sources.
Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.