Queensland business Mizzie the Kangaroo has become fully-circular by repurposing more than 2000 of its iconic orange natural rubber teething toys, and launching a new initiative whereby customers can post or return their used products to the business for recycling.
The award-winning products, pulled from the company’s flooded warehouse, found a new home with Pearl Global, a pioneering Australian company committed to solving the global waste tyre problem.
Mizzie the Kangaroo founder Sandra Ebbott described the partnership between the two Queensland companies as “perfect”.
“Our teething and educational toys are designed to give our children the best start in life,” she said. “We’re on a mission now to extend this notion, by ensuring our environmental impact is minimal, giving them a better future.
“We use natural and environmentally-friendly materials, but the fact we can now recycle our trademark products is huge for us and our customers.”
More than 12,000 units of Mizzie the Kangaroo’s educational books, puzzles, music boxes and teething toys worth $330,000 were destroyed in February when water tore through its Brisbane warehouse. Thousands of its bright orange natural rubber teething toys were covered in mud, rendering them unsuitable for sale.
Having built the company with a firm focus on sustainability, Mrs Ebbott couldn’t stand the thought of them going to waste, so on top of dealing with the clean-up, she has spent the past six months trying to find a second use for them.
Enter Pearl Global, who used its thermal desorption process to transform the toys into high-value fuel, carbon, steel and gas, while using almost zero emissions.
“To know the Mizzies that were damaged in the floods and those no longer needed by our customers won’t go to waste and will play a critical role in our local infrastructure, is pretty special,” Mrs Ebbott said. Pearl Global co-founder Gary Foster said the company was happy to provide a solution that ensured none of the damaged toys went to waste.
“It is a pleasure to support Mizzie the Kangaroo as a business that shares our values of circular economy and commitment to diverting waste from landfill through repurposing,” he said.
The global toys industry is valued at $156 billion, with the Australian share worth $586 million.
Mrs Ebbott said with the sector only continuing to grow, it was crucial businesses found a way to reduce their environmental footprint.
“Parents are buying fewer toys for their children and looking out for ones that are sustainably made and packaged, as a way to reduce the amount of waste their family produces,” she said.
“It’s up to all of us to find new and creative ways of doing things.”
Mizzie the Kangaroo recently closed a $268,000 crowdfunding campaign to help it develop a suite of new products and increase its presence overseas.
Its new recycling program, also launched on Thursday, means each Mizzie purchased can be returned to the company at the end of its lifespan, so it can be repurposed and diverted from landfill.
Mrs Ebbott said she was actively working with her Australian retail partners - which includes Myer, Kidstuff and Terry White Chemart - to create other collection points, to make it easier than ever for customers to recycle.
Brisbane Economic Development Agency CEO Anthony Ryan said he was proud to see local partnerships creating positive change.
“This is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when enterprising people come together to overcome challenges,” he said.
“Thanks to the passion and ingenuity of Sandra and her team, what could have been a disappointing loss has been given a new, sustainable purpose.
“Brisbane Economic Development Agency is proud to support businesses by making connections that help them grow, adapt and succeed.”
Thursday’s initiative coincides with Australia’s inaugural Green Friday event starting on Friday.
The sustainable alternative to Black Friday, takes place from November 18 to 21.
Pearl Global has processed more than two million tyres, with the materials produced going on to be used in the construction of several roads across Queensland.