The Disruption Report #48: A Potential West Coast Dock Strike, U.N. Votes to End Plastic Pollution, and Birth Rates Normalizing

A West Coast Dock Workers strike: “hope for the best but you also have to plan for the worst.”

Fifteen thousand west coast dockworkers are currently in negotiations for a new contract. The old agreement expires on June 15, 2022. Such a strike would close down west coast ports and stop the flow of toys and other consumer products from entering the country. It would be particularly alarming for a toy industry that engages in heavy importing during the summer months.

How worried should we be? Here is a quote from Vincent Clerc, CEO of the world’s largest containerized freight shipping company, Moller-Maersk:

I hope for swift resolution but some of the issues will take some time to settle between the parties. The only advice I have for customers is you have to hope for the best but you also have to plan for the worst.”

Maersk Logistics Chief Sees Bumpy West Coast Labor Process,” Laura Curtis, Bloomberg

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that particularly reassuring.

Some Good News. Birth Rate beginning to Normalizes

Alexandre Tanzi reports in her Bloomberg article, “U.S. Birth Rate Seen Returning to Pre-Covid Level as Virus Eases:”

The number of births for the first half of 2021 declined by 2%, the same as the decrease observed for the first half of 2020, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s less than half of the drop seen in the second half of 2020.

In any given year, the number of births is a leading indicator of future toy industry health. A decline in births results in fewer toddlers in just two years. According to the article, states particularly hit hard include “Washington D.C. – 9%. California, Delaware, Maryland, and New York – 4%. If you are a retailer in any of these states, consider these numbers when planning two years out.

U.N. Agrees to End Plastic Pollution

For the first time, the international community has agreed on a framework to curb the world’s growing plastic problem. A resolution adopted Wednesday by the United Nations lays out an ambitious plan for developing a legally binding treaty to “end plastic pollution.’”

U.N. adopts historic resolution aimed at ending plastic pollution,” Tik Root, The Washington Post

This is only the first step in turning a framework into a final agreement. Still, the toy industry needs to take heed as it “includes all phases of the plastic life cycle — from design and production to waste management.” We need to be working now to minimize our industry’s dependence on petroleum-based plastics. If not, we may be forced into finding alternatives whether we wish to or not.

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