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Mattel's new PlayBack program will recycle old toy materials for future Mattel products. USA TODAY

The old Barbie dolls haven't been dressed up in years, and the Matchbox cars haven't crossed any finish lines. The Mega Bloks have sat idle while a layer of dust gets thicker.

Mattel has a way for families to extend the life of these unused and outgrown toys – and keep them out of the landfill – with the launch of its toy takeback program, the company shared exclusively with USA TODAY.

Mattel PlayBack will recover and reuse the materials from the old toys that families send to the company for future Mattel products.

There's no cost for consumers to participate, and the recycling program will initially accept Barbie, Matchbox and Mega toys. Other Mattel brands are likely to be added.

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"Mattel toys are made to last and be passed on from generation to generation," Mattel President and Chief Operating Officer Richard Dickson said in a statement. The company is innovating by finding sustainable solutions. "Our Mattel PlayBack program is a great example of this, enabling us to turn materials from toys that have lived their useful life into recycled materials for new products."

For materials that cannot be repurposed as recycled content in new toys, Mattel said it will either downcycle them or convert them from waste to energy.

Pamela Gill Alabaster, Mattel global head of sustainability, said the program is one step the company is "taking to address the growing global waste challenge."

The company's goal is to use 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all products and packaging by 2030. Last year, Mattel introduced several toys as part of this, including two Fisher-Price products – Rock-a-Stack and Baby’s First Blocks – and three Mega Bloks sets made from bio-based plastics.

The Matchbox Tesla Roadster, planned to be available in 2022, will be the first die-cast vehicle made from 99% recycled materials and certified CarbonNeutral.

How Mattel PlayBack works

Go to Mattel.com/PlayBack to print a free shipping label, then pack and mail outgrown Mattel toys back to Mattel. U.S. and Canadian consumers without computers or printers can request a shipping label over the phone by calling 800-524-8697.

The collected toys will be sorted and separated by material type before being processed and recycled, the company said. 

Toys not eligible for the recycling program, including non-Mattel brands, that are in good condition can still get a new life and stay out of landfills by being passed on to friends or donated to charities.

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