The pioneers of sustainable nursery products
Actually, we can go back to 2011 to meet a first attempt to deal with the matter. Goodbaby, the Chinese company which at the time was ranked the world’s largest manufacturer of strollers, launched its EQO collection. It encompassed a pram, a car seat, a highchair and a crib, all items being designed according to the Cradle To Cradle concept. The concept was introduced by German chemist Michael Braungart and US architect William McDonough in their 2002 book of the same name, where they encouraged the manufacturing of products with the goal of upcycling. It was a brave effort but it came too early: consumers and retailers were not ready and Goodbaby’s project died away, at least outside China.
In 2013 a Dutch company, Greentom, aroused lively interest with the proposal of an eco-friendly stroller. It was conceived by designer Bart Bost with the planet and the next generation in mind. In Greentom’s line all materials can be reused or recycled. The frame is entirely made of high-quality, non-toxic recycled plastic, previously sorted, cleaned and shredded into flakes. The fabric is a top-quality fibre obtained from recycled drinking bottles: non-toxic, easy to clean, it has an excellent Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating. 28 unique components can be assembled anywhere in the world in just 5 minutes. Local production and short assembly times mean less CO2 emission.
Recycling is a growing trend
During the last two years the use of recycled plastics for the strollers’ upholstering has spread all over Europe: a few stroller manufacturers – including Bugaboo and Easywalker, both based in The Netherlands, and Peg Perego from Italy – have started using fabrics made with recycled PET bottles. In September 2019 Chicco, brand of the Italian Artsana group, announced it would adhere to the SEAQUAL Initiative, which works with the waste management and recycling industries to reuse and transform marine litter, and showed a travel system and car seat employing Upcycled Marine Plastic.
The trend has involved other categories of nursery products as well. The Green Label line, introduced by German company Lässig in 2011, features changing bags mainly made of material derived from plastic bottles. Danish company Done By Deer has recently launched a collection of changing bags, backpacks and clutches with a soft and durable weatherproof surface, made from recycled PET bottles. A similar super soft recycled polyester yarn is used by Tots Bots (UK). It is the first company in the world to make the waterproof fabric for their nappies out of plastic bottles waste.
A good practice for the future
Even if using recycled materials is just one of several possible approaches to sustainability by the nursery products industry, it is without any doubt a good practice that will be adopted by more and more companies, which this way will at the same time show awareness of the environmental issue and meet an express demand by the consumers who, as parents, worry about the problems their children will face as they grow in a planet affected by global warming, extreme weather conditions and unmanageable waste. In time, recycled plastic will become more reliable and cheaper, allowing the manufacture of a wider range of products.
About the author
Italian journalist Daniele Caroli has been editor-in-chief and contributor to international trade magazines in the nursery products and toy businesses since 1994. He has been President of BCMI (Baby Care Magazines International) and of ITMA (International Toy Magazines Association). Previously, he had worked as a journalist in music and consumer electronics periodicals.