Our mission at Playworld Systems is to create safe and healthy environments for children to play, and that is why the company led the industry in becoming the first to commit to eliminating PVC from its products. Playworld Systems succeeded in becoming 99.99% PVC-free, and this was just the beginning. In 2010, Playworld began partnering with MBDC to integrate Cradle to Cradle® design principles throughout its product lines and working to source only safe and healthy materials that can be kept in infinite use cycles. By the next year, 18 product lines were Cradle to Cradle Certified™ at the Basic level. Playworld Systems continued to make strides to improve its environmental footprint, and now the majority of the company’s 2011 catalog products (including 23 product lines) are Cradle to Cradle Certified™ at the Silver level.
According to Jay Bolus, VP of Technical Operations at MBDC, “Playworld Systems has made an impressive company-wide commitment to obtain certification for all of its products, and no other company with such a broad product offering has done that.”
The company created a cross-functional team comprised of representatives from quality, purchasing and environmental and materials engineering groups to help collect and manage the supply chain data needed for Cradle to Cradle Certified™ assessments in material health, material reutilization, renewable energy use, water stewardship and social responsibility. In order to achieve the Silver level of certification, at least 95 percent (by weight) of each product’s materials were audited by MBDC to identify chemicals of concern down to the 100 parts per million level. Playworld Systems worked with MBDC to contact over 125 suppliers and sub-suppliers to validate the safety of each material for human and environmental health. The company changed its purchase specifications to meet the stringent certification requirements and ended relationships with certain suppliers that were unable to meet the guidelines. Through this exhaustive exercise with MBDC, Playworld Systems was able to eliminate neoprene (a material related to PVC) from its belt bridges and identify a safer polyethylene coating for high-traffic parts.
Aligning with the Cradle to Cradle® philosophy also required Playworld Systems to analyze its waste streams. The modular playground equipment was already designed for easy disassembly and recycling, and over 95 percent of the materials used in the products are recyclable when appropriate recycling facilities are available. Playworld Systems went even further to develop solutions that support their customers in recycling the products and keeping the valuable materials out of landfills. Instructions are provided to all customers on how to recycle the play equipment when it has reached the end of its long, useable life. Playworld Systems also implemented an electronics take-back program for customers to assure that those components in its products can be recycled properly. Furthermore, the company took steps to improve recycling from its internal operations and from the community. The company boosted the recycling rate of its manufacturing waste to 95 percent, and it implemented a “Recycle from Home” program that allows employees to bring in recyclables from home that are not accepted in municipal recycling streams. This successful recycling service has diverted more than 11,250 pounds (over 5 tons) of materials from landfills since the program began in July 2012.
Playworld Systems is committed to protecting the planet for generations of happy, playful kids. For more information about Playworld Systems, visit www.PlayworldSystems.com.