Spielwarenmesse: The Fair Toys Organisation: Pioneer work in fairness and transparency

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The Fair Toys Organisation: Pioneer work in fairness and transparency

from Eva Stemmer und Jörg Meister

The Fair Toys Organisation (FTO) is on the starting blocks for its founding assembly on 14 July 2020 in Nuremberg. Already in 2018, the "Nuremberg Alliance for Fair Toys" set itself the goal of creating an independent seal for social standards in toy manufacturing. The seal is not supposed to be another sales promotion instrument, but rather a symbol of self-commitment manufacturers want to be judged by. 


 

Our initiative distinguishes itself from existing codices by placing the focus on the responsibility of the ordering company. We want to take toy manufacturers up on their promise, who have until now been shoving off the responsibility to the factories in which toys are produced.

Maik Pflaum, a labour rights expert for the Christian Initiative Romero (CIR) and coordinator of the project

The highest body in the Fair Toys Organisation is the Executive Board, which takes decisions by equal stakeholder groups. Each stakeholder group contributes the same number of persons to represent it on the Executive Board. Initially, this is one to two persons per stakeholder group. The persons are appointed by the respective stakeholder group. The voting rights are distributed among the stakeholder groups as follows:

  • Toy manufacturers and their associations 25%
  • Toy retailers and their associations 25%
  • Civil society organisations and alliances 25%
  • Trade unions and trade union federations 25%

Founding Assembly on 14 July 2020

Fair Toys Organisation

The first step into the public eye was taken at the Spielwarenmesse® 2020, where information on intentions, objectives and the timeline of the Fair Toys Organisation was released. The German Association of the Toy Industry (Deutscher Verband der Spielwarenindustrie e.V. - DSVI) is actively involved and supports the idea. Several initial companies declared their intent to become part of the alliance. The founding was confidently envisioned for the first half of the year 2020 and, after a postponement due to coronavirus, will now take place on 14 July 2020.

The aim of the organisation, which will be supported by companies and retailers in the toy industry and non-governmental organisations alike, is to promote the topics of social and ecological responsibility in the toy industry and provide consumers with a solid basis of information: for a more responsible toy production from manufacturing to retail.

This is the Fair Toys Organisation

  • The Fair Toys Organisation sees itself as an umbrella and supervisory authority with a multi-stakeholder approach, which also recognises pre-existing programmes ensuring social and environmental standards, such as the Ethical Toy Program.
  • The FTO will develop solution strategies and improvement measures with its member companies based on existing documentation and control procedures for said companies and their relevant supply chain.
  • The FTO’s objective is to develop a seal making a company’s social-ecological commitment transparent for consumers and to improve the conditions in global toy factories in the long-term.
  • The FTO will receive support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The pioneers Heunec and Sigikid

The team that initiated the Fair Toys Organisation inspired several interested companies from the beginning. Two of those day one companies are the plush toy manufacturers sigikid and Heunec.

Both companies have already been distinguishing themselves through prudent management and an increased awareness of environmental and social issues for a long time.

Both manufacturers have high self-set standards towards their products. They are supposed to last an entire childhood, and if possible be passed on. They must also be free of substances harmful to the environment. Heunec manufactures baby products according to GOTS standards and compensates for all of their CO2 emissions with the help of ClimatePartner. The company prepares and optimizes its carbon footprint every year. Their "climate neutral" label guarantees transparency: emissions and compensation thereof can be monitored with the company’s ID at any time.

FTO provides customers with orientation

Axel Gottstein, owner of sigikid
Axel Gottstein, owner of sigikid

The idea behind Fair Toys is now more important than ever. It is to help consumers make well-informed purchasing decisions - especially regarding sustainable and responsible manufacturing. Axel Gottstein, owner of sigikid, points out: "Because of coronavirus, our customers will pay more attention to and be more conscious of how and where products are manufactured. The Fair Toys Organisation should set an example by providing a better orientation and thereby making general improvements to social conditions in and the ecological impact of the toy industry." In this respect, the coronavirus pandemic sheds light upon the need for sustainable economic activity and with that, the most extensive possible implementation of the Fair Toys idea. "Customers’ feelings are now becoming standpoints. With that, fair trade is becoming an important criterium in the toy purchasing decision. Now is the right time to join the FTO, as joining later rather than earlier makes the decision seem insincere and all the efforts involved much more complicated," said Dr Harald Bolsinger, professor for Business Ethics & Economics at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, at the event "Make Toys Fair" on 3 March 2020 in the Nuremberg city hall.

Obligations for (potential) members

Barbara Fehn-Dransfeld and Josephine Dransfeld
Barbara Fehn-Dransfeld and Josephine Dransfeld

Barbara Fehn-Dransfeld wants to relieve companies thinking of joining the FTO of their fears: "It is similar as with other certifications: The initial concern of having to make a big contribution to join vanishes quickly: The lion’s share is for proper documentation, and the existing network of companies already in the FTO, which are partially even competitors in the market, helps with that." 

 

It is better to work on improving conditions in manufacturing countries and the topic of sustainability as opposed to constantly positioning ourselves against each other.

Ulrich Brobeil, Director of the German Association of the Toy Industry

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spielwarenmesse eG.

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