Rebellion, the publisher of 2000AD and Judge Dredd, has pledged to never include plastic toys or gifts with any of its comic books or magazines. The commitment to go plastic-free comes as major retailers move to ban magazines and comics aimed at children that include toys or other promotional items made of plastic as 'cover mounts' on their publications.
As newsagents and shops reopen and restock after the pandemic lockdowns, Rebellion, the publisher of 2000 AD, 2000 AD Regened and the Judge Dredd Megazine, sees this as the chance to recalibrate the British newsstand towards a more sustainable future.
Jason Kingsley OBE, CEO of Rebellion, said: "The environment should matter to us all, so I am delighted that we are able to give a commitment to never give away plastic 'cover mount' gifts with our titles. This sends a strong message that our work to support and expand the British comics industry won't come at the cost of more plastic waste – a particularly important message when we are increasing our all-ages offering with 2000 AD Regened.
"We support quality comics that stand on their merits, and I am very proud that we can rule out resorting to adding plastic-free gifts to the covers of our titles.
"We have already moved toward greater environmental sustainability by using bio-degradable packaging; for example, the Judge Dredd Megazine comes in a fully compostable bag that can be disposed of in any compost bin or council food waste scheme.
"As newsagents and shops steadily reopen after the last 18 months, we believe now is the time to make a change. It may be a small step, but hopefully, other publishers will also stand with us and give similar commitments against producing plastic gifts with their titles."
Originally started by publishers in the 1990s as a means to 'boost' flagging sales, cover-mounted free gifts have since become the norm in children's magazine publishing. While the strategy may have worked at the time, it has led to a glut of unwelcome plastic bags and other plastic clogging shelves. Many of Rebellion's publications, including Judge Dredd Megazine, often came wrapped in plastic to include a bonus comic or graphic novel of a more obscure 2000AD series. This also creates a barrier to browsers, meaning children are no longer able to judge a comic's contents before buying and parents prioritising the 'value' of the cover mount over the quality of the work inside.
Inspired by campaigns started by children calling for an end to free plastic toys, major retailers such as Waitrose have already committed to banning titles that include them from their newsstands.
The UK is a major contributor to the world's plastic crisis, generating more plastic waste per person than any other country except the USA, according to a 2018 report from Greenpeace. Free toys and giveaway items add to this – they not only have a short lifespan but cannot easily be recycled.
A recent poll found that 85 percent of people in the UK want the government to make retailers cut the amount of plastic packaging. Rebellion Publishing is the latest comics publisher to promise to go seriously Green.