Retailers in the Netherlands have been targeted by Greenpeace to stop stocking PVC toys.
One retail chain, Blokker-concern, has asked its international toy suppliers not to use PVC in toys designed for children younger than age 3. The chain has 500 outlets in a number of Western European countries.
Greenpeace's Dutch arm, Stichting Greenpeace Nederland, welcomed the chain's move. It described it as ``the first step'' to phasing out PVC use in toys.
Other companies approached by SGN include the department store company Bijendorf and the baby goods chain Prenatal, the environmental organization said.
Amsterdam-based Blokker-concern made its decision before it was approached by Greenpeace, said Ries Van Eyck, company director. He said the company had received many letters from plastic toy manufacturers, adding that there is a general concern among suppliers about ``care for the environment.''
He added that his firm's decision is entirely voluntary, since European standards for toys do not include regulations against use of PVC.
Greenpeace, which also opposes use of PVC in building materials and packaging, claims manufacturing and disposal of the resin releases toxic substances in the environment, including dioxin, and that the use of stabilizers are health hazards. It claims there are sufficient alternative materials, including chlorine-free plastics, wood, cotton and rubber for toys.
Artsana SpA, a toy manufacturer based in Casnate, Italy, is resolute in its view that PVC toys are safe.
The firm, which makes toys sold under the Chicco label, endorsed the strong stand taken by Europe's PVC producers against Greenpeace, said Roberto Marelli, Artsana operations manager.
He said Artsana has sent a full report on migration tests on its soft plastic toys to the Italian Health Ministry showing that the firm conformed with all relevant safety standards. These findings refuted a study by a Danish environmental protection agency, which found that phthalate plasticizers may be dangerous for young children who put toys in their mouths.