A comparative and exploratory study of toy products in the circular economy

Watkins, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-3756-0437 and Mestre, A., 2019. A comparative and exploratory study of toy products in the circular economy. In: Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE 2019). Berlin: TU Berlin University Press. ISBN ISBN 9783798331242 (Forthcoming)

1198981_Watkins.pdf - Post-print

Download (1MB) | Preview


This paper concerns relatively unexplored research concerning the environmental impact of children's toys. This segment represents a challenge in the circular economy, a priority area concerned with the EU´s ambition of drastically reducing the use of petroleum-based plastics in Europe, along with the optimisation of waste as valuable resources for design. The paper discusses the methodological approaches used in an ongoing explorative study analysis of sixteen toy product cases through empirical research concerning the life cycle impact, and specifically, the end of life implications of children's toys, focusing on eight distinct toy categories spanning an age range of six months to eight years old. A mixed methods approach was used, with three distinct stages: Individual component level life cycle analysis, the use of Circular Product Design assessment and improvement tools, and semi-structured interviews of three key stakeholders to evaluate the toys, complemented by the analysis of the economic depreciation of the toy's value. Following this analysis, designers sought to improve the circularity of the products using one of four circular product design approaches, designing for: "slowing the loop", "closing the loop", "bio-based loop" or "bio-inspired loop" (Mestre and Cooper, 2017). The preliminary findings of the research show that higher value branded items significantly outperformed their less expensive counterparts in both the LCA and stakeholder research, due to higher value and their recognition in the second hand market leading to 2 nd or 3 rd lives, slowing the loop. Opportunities for improvement were identified to further improve toy circularity and close the loops through enhanced product attachment and circular business opportunities. Opportunities for bio-based solutions were also identified for lower value products, linking lower cost and shorter intended life to bio-based solutions, particularly in the craft and outdoor toys examples.

Item Type: Chapter in book
Description: Paper presented at the PLATE 2019 Conference, Berlin, Germany, 18-20 September 2019
Creators: Watkins, M. and Mestre, A.
Publisher: TU Berlin University Press
Place of Publication: Berlin
Date: 18 September 2019
ISBN: ISBN 9783798331242
Rights: The author agrees to the publication of the work under the Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Divisions: Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 20 Dec 2019 09:28
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2019 09:31
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/38897

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year