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Germany sells vision for 'green toys' to world

Germany sells vision for 'green toys' to world
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POSTED: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 11:22am

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 12:27pm

NUREMBERG, Germany (AP) -- The hottest "green" toy in Germany isn't made of organic or recycled materials. That's so 2010. This one has a solar panel and only runs if kids remember to insert bright red "energy stones" that power the rest of the space station.

The bright green "Future Planet" space station features an inner atrium with a fan that is powered by a functioning solar cell. Its aim is to get kids to use their imagination about how energy will be created in the future.

Makers and retailers believe such toys will play an increasingly important role in their future - and that of our kids.

Green toys - which range from those made of sustainable materials to ones like the space station that just raise environmental awareness - make up only a sliver of the nearly $84 billion international toy market, but their share is growing, studies indicate. Environmental research firm Earthsense, based in Syracuse, New York, predicts that green toys will account for about $1 billion, or 5 percent, of U.S. toy sales in the next five years.

"Sustainable toys are also high-quality toys, meaning they last longer and then we also have the aspect that it is worth it to invest a few more euros," said Rainer Weisskirch spokesman for Germany's TUV quality control organization.

Von Goeben noted that safety concerns play a role and that recent scandals over cadmium in many Chinese-made toys and BPAs in conventional plastics have made parents more concerned about what goes into their kids' toys.

"No longer can we have this anonymous plastic thing from someplace and give it to the child. Parents are smart and they want information about what's in the product. That's what's really driving the market."

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