It has just been announced that the world’s leading toymaker, US based Mattel has recalled millions of toys worldwide for the second time in two weeks.
It all comes down to the amount of lead in the paint used on these toys, which were made in China. In turn, the Chinese supplier has been blamed for using paint from unauthorised suppliers.
Mattel is recalling 18.2 million magnetic toys worldwide, 1.9 million of which were sold in the UK. The sheer scale and cost of this recall highligths once again the importance of company taking their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) seriously.
As globalisation leads to more and more products and services being sourced gloablly, it is more important than ever that companies have strict and thorough auditing in place. Even more importantly, companies must have a conscious and a CSR policy that they believe in.
Otherwise, we will see many more instances like today where a major global player has to eat humble pie and recall its products. The toys being recalled today could just be the tip of the iceberg.
Ultimately, it all comes back to company directors being more Personally Socially Responsible.
I think it’s a brilliant move. There’ll now be stricter quality control in such companies. But when one company as big as Mattel makes a move, all other competitors in the industry will follow suit as they don’t want to lose business on poor standards and lack of PSR.
This is all fine. But to take a medical analogy, its treating a symtom. Better and more efficient surely to prevent the disease in the first place.
I would argue – having been inculated over the years with the ideas of McDonough and Braungart – that the real change will come, and is coming, long term, as business and industry adopts sustainable, intelligent, anticipatory DESIGN.
The key then is in the design phase. Design out that which is harmful to humans and environment. Design out waste. (Take a look at companies like Nike, Herman Miller, Steel Case). Product designers need to adopt the Hippocratic credo ‘First do no harm’. In the long run that’s far more effective than attempting piecemeal remedies after the event. The argument goes, rightly, that sustainable design is not just more socially responsible it is better business.