Limited use of recyclate in toy production / Inflation stops higher costs from being passed on to end customers
German company Simba Dickie (Fürth; started using recyclate material in its toy production for the first time this year. But, said finance boss Manfred Duschl while talking to, “there is still a long way to go”. So far, the company has bought a modest 40 t of recyclate this year. For polypropylene, the toy manufacturer cooperates with Duales System Holding (DSD, Cologne; and for polyethylene, with other recycling companies.

“This is the way we want to go,” said Duschl, “but a market first has to be found for it”. The intention is to raise the quantity of recyclate to 400-500 t in 2023. In view of the 16,000 t or so of plastics processed by the two large converters in the group – the manufacturer of ride-on vehicles, BIG, and the French firm Smoby Toys – that would still be a relatively small share. At Smoby, an average of around 8,000 t of PP and 4,500 t of HDPE are blow-moulded and injection-moulded in a year, and at BIG, the corresponding figures are about 2,000 t of PP and 1,500 t of HDPE.

In fact, there is a good reason why recyclate is only being used to a limited extent – it lacks colour brilliance. The rendition of the colour with recyclate material is not as bright as with the primary product. There are also deficits with regard to UV resistance and mechanical stability – an experience also reported in the past by the German specialist for cleaning apparatus, Alfred Kärcher (Winnenden; “We need to find other mixing ratios, and that could take a few years,” said Duschl. A limiting factor with the use of recyclate is also the shortage of high-grade material, which is very much sought-after at present.

Thus, while the use of recyclate is making only slow progress, attention is focused at present on the important Christmas and spring business. Duschl is of the opinion that price increases will be almost impossible to implement in 2022. The higher prices for energy – and also for granules – have come at the expense of the company’s own cost calculations. Freight costs, additional purchases of goods and wage increases also had to be taken into account. Although plastics prices had fallen again in the middle of the year, it was “not really enough to have made any difference”.

CFO Manfred Duschl (Photo: Simba Dickie)
Nevertheless, price increases at Simba Dickie are not likely to be on the agenda in the near future either. Consumers in Germany and the EU have simply taken too much of a beating lately due to the effects of inflation. This is likely to impact both the company’s turnover of, at the last count, EUR 754 mn, and its earnings. In 2021, earnings had already been well below the previous year’s figure, and a further decline is on the cards. Duschl: “Earnings will remain positive, but will not reach the level of last year.”

There are no plans to shift production from Germany and France to countries with lower costs. “Because of the large-volume toys, we would be transporting air,” said Duschl. For this reason, during the course of 2022, Smoby has expanded – and in some cases modernised – production at the three sites around the central manufacturing location in Arinthod, about 80 km to the west of Geneva, with five new machines. Four of them are all-electric injection moulding machines, and one is an automatic blow moulding machine – in each case including robot technology.

About 75% of Smoby products are currently manufactured in France, a further 15% in China and 10% in Spain, reports general director Alexis Delorme, and sees this as a clear commitment to the domestic market. Just 10 years ago, he said, only around half the toys came from production in France.
29.11.2022 [251576-0]
Published on 29.11.2022
Simba Dickie: Bislang nur wenig Einsatz von Rezyklat bei SpielwarenGerman version of this article...

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