Sprout’s PlanToys Factory Tour
Want to shop for these great wood toys? Check out all of our PlanToys.
When PlanToys called and invited us to be a part of their 2014 Green Ambassador Program, we were beyond thrilled. What did this mean exactly? It meant that we were on our way to Thailand for a first-hand look how their toys are produced!
Our trip started in the province of Trang, Thailand where PlanToys was founded in 1981. We visited their rubber tree plantation to learn how the trees are used. Every morning, a long line is carved into the side of each of the 10,000 rubber trees to promote the release of liquid rubber latex. This liquid flows down the open cut and drips into a small cup placed at the bottom. Every tree produces approximately 1 cup of rubber latex each day. This rubber latex is sold for numerous consumer products throughout Thailand. This process happens every day for 25 to 40 years, until the tree stops producing latex. The trees are then ready to be cut down and made into adorable wooden toys.
Our next stop was the PlanToys Energy Plant. One of the most impressive insights was that the entire company has ZERO waste. Every scrap and root has a use—even the sawdust in the factories is vacuumed up and reused! At the plant we witnessed the process of turning surplus, unusable wood scraps into energy with their Biomass generator. This creates enough electricity to run the entire PlanToys Factory, with excess that's sold to the Thai government. PlanToys is a carbon neutral company. Not only does PlanToys utilize and consume every part of the trees they cut down, they also continue to plant new trees. Over the past 8 years, they have planted over 40,000 trees and plants in Chiyaphum province of Thailand.
The following day at the PlanToys Factory, we saw the toy making process from start to finish. First, the wood is cut and separated into sections. Then it is passed on to various stations where it is shaped, sanded, painted, and assembled. We were shocked and amazed to see every single toy touched by so many hands. Whether it was hand sanding, placing the toy in just the right position for paint placement, or gluing a piece together with 0% formaldehyde glue, each piece passed through so many individuals. Some stations had multiple employees handling one product, making sure it was perfect before moving on to the next station. The factory dust created from the wood is sucked up into vacuums and later pressed together with organic color pigments, and non-formaldehyde glue to make “PlanWood”, another high quality, safe, and sustainable material used in many of their toys. Once all of this is complete, the toys are tested for safety, boxed up in recycled packaging that's printed with soy inks, and shipped out!
The individuals who work for PlanToys are proud and accomplished. Everyone—from the graphic designers and early childhood education experts to the factory workers and sales teams—is proud to work for this company. This is probably because they are treated so well and believe in the mission of the company they are working for. The factory workers are well-compensated and offered several amenities including local housing and free rice everyday with lunch. They host open markets where they can sell goods to one another and they own a co-op convenience store on the factory property.
Learning more about PlanToys and experiencing first-hand how the toys are made and who is making them was absolutely incredible. The forward-thinking mentality for the employees, their company, and the children who will be playing with their toys around the world was truly inspiring. Now, when I am showing their toys to our customers, it is so personal for me. I am proud to sell toys that are doing so much good around the world.
Want to learn more? Check out our related article: Going on a Gator Hunt: PlanToys Factory Tour.