The impact of plastic toy advertising to children on their health and the environment
4 September 2020
  • Consumer Information for SCP

Using scientific data to widen the debate

This study on the broad impacts of plastic toy advertising to children on their health and the environment is pioneering, and not only in Brazil. How can we measure, using consistent data and including the informal market, this sector that has grown steadily over the last decade, according to the Brazilian Association of Toy Manufacturers (Abrinq), which has a turnover of about US$ 2.2 billion annually? What are the messages conveyed by electronic media, mainly social networks, which promote unreflective consumption by “adultized” children and “infantilized” adults (Postman, 1999), both by advertising and the product sold as a toy? What are the raw materials of these toy products and how are they produced? 

What kind of product is delivered, mostly comprising plastic material and other components in great quantity and variety, often toxic, such as endocrine disruptors (for example, plastic monomers, phthalates, Bisphenol A and heavy metals)? What can a surprise doll teach that is packed to exhaustion and covered in glitter? What about the plastic toys sold in fast food (eatertainment) snack combos, which promise an unrealizable dream of ephemeral happiness, ensuring only lasting damage to children’s health, in broad terms, including nutritional?

Thus, characterizing and coping with the problem associated with advertising plastic toys targeted at children in Brazil is urgent and requires questioning about the way childhood has been treated, whether in its linguistic and communication patterns, or 11 in food habits, desires, clothing and physical appearance (often sexualized), as these childhood images are being sold as adult-like, insightful and attractive. Furthermore, the residual plastic of the discarded or broken toy will not be solved by a simple 3R program (reduce, reuse, recycle), requiring a reflection on the production model and society that we need, considering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN).

A new practice in the field of Chemistry and Engineering based on green and sustainable materials and processes can also contribute to this agenda, associated with new models of education for diversity, plurality, ethics, inclusion, critical thinking and action and, perhaps, emancipation. This study was commissioned by the Alana Institute and intends to present data on the topic to support discussions and decisions by authorities, companies, advertising agencies, consumer groups and non-governmental organizations about advertising aimed at children when the subject is not only the toy, but also the intentionalities and materialities in it.

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  • Consumer Information for SCP
Data & research
Consumer goods, Plastics