As resources become scarcer, efficiency improvements alone will not bridge the widening gap between supply and demand, resulting in the need for additional non-financial mechanisms to ensure the fairer allocation of resources. In the future, tough decisions will need to be made as to which human needs or wants will be met, rather than which product will be chosen to meet those needs. The ability to assess products based on the contribution to society (Social Value) will be as important as assessing the products sustainability footprint. To some degree the Toy industry is ahead of others industries in this regard, (e.g. automotive, white goods, food) as some toys are marketed on their ‘play value’ rather than desirability alone. These ‘play values’ can include factors such as educational, communication, fitness and motor skills. Through play the world is explored and basic motor skills are developed and toys are one of the main ‘tools’ for this purpose. Existing design tools and assessment methodologies were reviewed to identify current capabilities and highlights the need for ‘Societal Value’ assessment that considers both quantitative and qualitative factors.This project proposes a systematic framework for addressing the ‘Societal Value’ of toys as part of an integrated sustainability assessment and allows the evaluation and comparison beyond products’ shared functionality.
1. A review of the development and structure of the toy industry and evaluate current toy product and market categorisations.
2. A review the current status and practice of sustainable toy manufacture and design through the investigation of existing methods and tools used for improving product sustainability.
3. Development of an integrated framework for assessing a product (toys) in terms of its sustainability and societal benefits (Play Value) in order to provide strategic support for toy companies.
4. A number of case studies for testing the validity of the strategic support framework.