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Meet PlanToys: The Company Leading In Sustainability and Revolutionizing The Toy Industry

Welcome to our series, Cool Brands Doing Cool Things, where we get a behind the scenes look at the innovation, products and development, business practices, and more from these impactful brands.

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to shop sustainably, meaning choosing products that are constructed thoughtfully with sustainable and non-toxic materials, limit the impact of harvesting and utilizing resources, providing safe and ethical working conditions for employees, and paying living wages.

And as a mom of young kids, these things are extra important to me as we select toys and materials for our kids and our home. That’s why I was so excited to learn about PlanToys, a company committed to sustainability and who is revolutionizing the toy industry.

PlanToys is not just a toy company; it’s a beacon of sustainability and innovation in the world of children’s play. Founded in 1981 in Thailand, PlanToys has been dedicated to crafting toys that inspire imaginative play while prioritizing environmental and social responsibility.

PlanToys Factory
photo via PlanToys

What sets PlanToys apart is its commitment to using sustainable materials, particularly rubberwood trees that no longer produce latex. These trees are repurposed into high-quality, safe toys through a chemical-free kiln-drying process. In addition to their eco-friendly practices, PlanToys also prioritizes the well-being of their workers, ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions.

Beyond their environmental and ethical standards, PlanToys designs toys that spark creativity and learning. From their iconic wooden dolls houses to their colorful and engaging puzzles, each toy is carefully crafted to encourage children to explore, create, and learn through play.

With a focus on sustainability, innovation, and child development, PlanToys is not just a brand—it’s a philosophy that empowers children and families to play with purpose and joy. PlanToys was kind enough to send over a treat for us to test out firsthand – we choose the Pirate Ship! My oldest son was immediately enthralled (he’s in his pirate era) and has played with it nonstop since we got it.

You can immediately tell from opening the box that they are committed to making high quality materials for kids. The construction is beautiful, smooth, and thoughtfully designed.

plantoys pirate ship

Check out our interview with Rudy Valenta, Vice President of Americas, at PlanToys below to learn more about the company, practices, and future goals.

Meet PlanToys: The Company Leading In Sustainability and Revolutionizing The Toy Industry

1. Can you tell us about PlanToys’ commitment to sustainability and how it is integrated into the company’s mission and values?

PlanToys is unlike any other toy manufacturer out there. When I say that, I genuinely mean it. I can guarantee most of you have never heard of PlanToys, even though this will be our 43rd year in business. We are so focused on our sustainability that we have often forgotten to share what we have been doing and accomplished year after year.

PlanToys was founded in 1981 by Vitool Viraponsawan in his hometown of Trang, Thailand. As an altruistic architect, he found that teaching children through play is the best way to make a better tomorrow. He founded PlanToys with the mission of Better Kid, Better World Through Sustainable Play.

From that day, we created developmentally appropriate toys that teach children and their families about sustainability through toys and play.

One of Thailand’s top exports is latex and rubber. Latex is harvested from trees, and in Vitool’s hometown, latex is the top commodity farmers grow on their rubberwood farms. After about 25 years, farmers cut down the rubberwood trees on their farms that are no longer productive in creating latex to make room to plant new trees. Farmers would traditionally burn the wood as it was a byproduct of their farm.

Vitool didn’t see wood as a byproduct but as a valuable building resource. He went to the farmers to buy the wood to prevent them from burning it, giving them a new source of income and giving birth to PlanToys and its base material. PlanToys is so proud to say that we have never cut down a tree to make our toys. All of our wood is upcycled from the latex industry, which builds sustainability into the very foundation of our company. 

This mission statement has guided PlanToys over the years, ensuring our decisions are aligned with putting children and the planet first.   

PlanToys Factory
photo via PlanToys

2. How does PlanToys ensure that its products are environmentally friendly and made from sustainable materials?

First, we source locally. 75% of the materials used in our products come from a 30 km radius of our factory. This ensures we have a low carbon footprint and aren’t shipping materials from around the world to manufacture our products in Thailand, which we ship back around the world to the end consumer. 

Our wood is upcycled from the latex industry and gets a second life as a toy. We hope that with our many circular economy initiatives, PlanToys will be passed down from generation to generation, family to family, to extend the toy’s life and provide hours of fun to children. 

We recycle and reuse. A material exclusive to PlanToys manufacturing is PlanWood. As you can imagine, our factory produces quite a bit of sawdust. We collect and clean that sawdust, mix it with organic pigment and non-toxic glue, and then press it into shapes that would be difficult to create with traditional woodworking techniques. With PlanWood, we were also able to develop waterproof wooden toys. 

Last but not least is safety. Since we are designing for children, safety is our number one priority. We want to use environmentally friendly and safe materials for all the children in our lives and around the world. That means we only use water-based dyes, organic pigments, natural rubber, chemical-free wood, and non-toxic formaldehyde-free glue for our products. 


3. Can you share some specific examples of sustainable practices or initiatives that PlanToys has implemented?

In 2022, we installed 1,851 solar panels on the roof of our factory to reduce our reliance on the grid and use green energy to manufacture our products. The solar energy helped us reduce our carbon footprint by 400 tCO2e per year, or a 30% reduction in electricity consumption from the grid. That is the equivalent of planting 42,105 trees per year. 

Another practice in our manufacturing is using brown kraft bags in our packaging over single-use polybags. This makes it easy for our community to recycle the packaging and reduce unnecessary plastic worldwide. 

My favorite initiative from recent years is our carbon footprint label on our packaging. We have calculated the carbon footprint of every one of the products that we manufacture. We see this similar to nutrition labels when they first came out. Not everyone cared or knew what to do with the information, but in time, we think this will be something that consumers care about and ask about. We hope that more manufacturers will start including the carbon footprint on their products so it is easier for consumers to pick items with a lower carbon footprint when shopping.

solar panels on the plantoys factory
photo via PlanToys

4. What challenges has PlanToys faced in maintaining its commitment to sustainability, and how has the company addressed these challenges?

Not many people cared about sustainability when PlanToys first came onto the market. Sustainability wasn’t a buzz word and retailers and consumers could care less how products were made for the most part. Sustainable manufacturing was something PlanToys did in the background because it was important to our company and our mission. 

We had to create sustainable practices and take the less traveled road to meet our high standard of sustainability, which was often expensive and not easy. We forged our path to be able to lead by example and have become a much more efficient and cost-effective manufacturer over the years with technology and experience while becoming even more sustainable. 

In the last ten years or so, we have found that the world cares a lot more about sustainability, especially as we have all seen our planet evolve in front of our eyes with climate change. Retailers and consumers are now asking for sustainably made items. This brings a whole new set of problems with greenwashing. 

One of the biggest challenges is getting certified. Since our sustainability is built into our company from day 1, not many certifications are available for companies like us that encompass all we do. We do not fit into the box of how retailers and marketplaces classify sustainability since we are one of a kind. 

For example, our wood is sourced as a byproduct from another industry, which makes it highly sustainable, but it doesn’t fit into one of the most commonly used certifications for wood – FSC Certified – since our wood wasn’t grown for manufacturing. It was grown for the production of Latex. 

PlanToys stays true to its mission by finding and working with partners who care about the planet and future generations as much as we do. Together, we are finding ways to certify sustainability, create new sustainable materials, and teach other companies and consumers about the importance of sustainability and how to lead by example.

PlanToys Factory
photo via PlanToys

5. How does PlanToys educate consumers about the importance of sustainability and encourage them to make environmentally conscious purchasing decisions?

We know that no person can fix climate change on their own, but we do know that if everyone, including corporations, can take tiny steps in the right direction, we can make a significant impact together and begin reversing its effects.

We work on showing our community how to take those tiny steps by leading by example and highlighting community members who are doing the same in supporting a circular economy. 

When it comes to purchasing, it’s all about education. We let our customers know that PlanToys are priced very competitively but have that sustainability IT factor many other brands don’t have. For the consumer, our sustainability IT factors are:

  • PlanToys is a company that offers replacement parts if something breaks or is lost, even years after the product was originally made. We even have a Toy Clinic to help families repair their toys.
  • PlanToys hold their value. We often see our products bought and sold on resale markets or in high demand in Buy Nothing groups.
  • Our designs are timeless, so families want to save their toys for their siblings, share them with friends, or pass them on to future generations. 
plantoys forest of play
photo via PlanToys

6. Can you share any future sustainability goals or initiatives that PlanToys has planned?

Our biggest sustainability goal is to be the first carbon-neutral global toy manufacturer in 2025. To do this, we had to calculate our carbon footprint in every step of the manufacturing process, including the carbon footprint of each of our toys. We then worked on different initiatives and sourcing projects to reduce or offset our carbon with green energy and our annual reforestation. Since 2004, we have planted 2,000 trees annually. 

7. Can you share any success stories or milestones related to sustainability that PlanToys is particularly proud of?

We are working on a 1,600,000 sqm T-VER project. T-VER stands for Thailand Voluntary Emission Reduction Program. The Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO) developed a greenhouse gas emission reduction program to support farmers so that they can sell carbon credits to corporations like PlanToys to help offset our carbon footprint. 

plantoys high quality toys

8. How does PlanToys incorporate feedback from customers and stakeholders into its sustainability practices and product development?

As a vertically integrated company and one of the few that owns and operates its own factory, we can iterate and update our products and manufacturing as we receive feedback. We are always listening to our global partners, retailers, and community, and we take every piece of feedback seriously.

When we can, we will change the manufacturing process or update the design of our product so that future production runs will include that change. As our manufacturing process improved, our best-selling items have evolved over the years to function better and have lower carbon footprints. 

9. In what ways does PlanToys collaborate with other organizations or industry partners to advance sustainability in the toy industry?

I want to highlight two notable collaborations: our partnership with LALO and Toy Cycle. We partnered with the baby brand LALO to manufacture their Play Boxes so parents can get age-appropriate toys delivered right to their door, filled with expert guidance and direction from LALO’s child care experts.

We collaborated with ToyCycle to guide our community to their marketplace as a low-lift solution to be able to participate in a circular marketplace so that parents can send in toys that their children no longer use for cash and buy pre-loved toys at superb prices, all from the comfort of their home. 

The list goes on and on and grows every year.  

PlanToys Factory
photo via PlanToys

10. How do you see the role of sustainability evolving at PlanToys in the future, and what impact do you hope to have on the industry as a whole?

I see sustainability evolving into something bigger than just materials and manufacturing. At PlanToys, we want it to be an experience, an easily accessible lifestyle that everyone can participate in, not just on the consumer side but in the whole circular movement. 

I hope companies evolve from producing products to creating circular lifestyles that work with other brands not to compete but to lift each other to improve. 

Currently, at the helm of PlanToys, we have Kosin Virapornsawan. He is Vitool’s nephew. He is leading PlanToys in a direction that embodies Vitool’s vision and mission but with a modern twist. Keep an eye out for some exciting projects we will announce later this year and in the coming years that we can’t share just yet!

plantoys high quality toys

PlanToys stands as a shining example of how a toy company can make a positive impact on both children and the planet. Through their commitment to sustainability, innovative design, and dedication to child development, PlanToys has earned its place as a leader in the toy industry.

By choosing PlanToys, parents can feel confident that they are not only providing their children with high-quality, engaging toys but also contributing to a better, greener future for generations to come. I will personally be purchasing more from the brand in the future for my kids and am looking forward to seeing how they grow as a company!

cool brands doing cool things

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.