Funko Pop! to send $36 million worth of plastic figurines to landfill

Tarika Powell
4 min readMar 8, 2023
Image of Arizona landfill by by Alan Levine, used under CC BY 2.0
King of the Trash Hill by Alan Levine, used under CC BY 2.0

Plastics pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time, from the heavy-polluting production process to the plastic waste littering our streets and oceans. And this year, Washington-based Funko collectibles will demonstrate just how easy it is to throw even more plastic into the waste stream.

Funko is a pop culture lifestyle brand that produces figurines, toys, apparel, and board games. The company has two physical stores, in Everett, Washington and Hollywood, but does most of its sales online. They are best known for their big-headed collectible figurines of pop culture figures ranging from basketball players to Disney characters to musicians. While a Funko Pop! can cost between $12 to $100, a few have become quite valuable to collectors. A rare, golden Willy Wonka Funko Pop!, one of only 10 such figurines produced in 2016, sold for $100,000 in early 2022.

But all that glitters isn’t gold over at Funko, and the company has experienced some recent losses. In early March, Funko announced that it would be eliminating $30 to $36 million worth of inventory in the first half of 2023 to reduce costs and inventory levels at their distribution centers. In a call with investors, Funko CEO Brian Mariotti said the company’s Arizona warehouse has so much inventory that they are renting shipping containers to hold it, and the rental fees are costing the company a fortune.

Funko reported a financial loss of $46.7 million in the last quarter of 2022. A portion of this was lagging sales, which were down $12 million from the same time period in 2021. (However, overall sales were up for the year, with $1.3 billion in sales in 2022 compared to $1 billion in 2021.) Overall the company lost $5.2 million for the year, with significant losses apparently related to the Arizona distribution center, which opened in 2022. The combination of decreased sales and increased inventory storage costs led to the decision to simply dump the inventory. The company will also lay off 10% of its employees.

While Funko is running a major sale on what I assume are their less popular Funko Pop! Collectibles (including Spike Lee and “Post Malone in Sundress”), millions will probably end up in a landfill, most likely in Arizona.

Just how many figurines will make their way to the landfill? Somewhere between 360,000 to 3 million. In the least-waste scenario, the company would be dumping only high-cost figurines. It’s highly unlikely that this is the case. They’re dumping Post Malone in a Sundress and unpopular tv characters, which are their $12 figures. By my estimates, between 1.4 million and 3 million individually packaged figurines are headed to the landfill.

Graph estimating how many Funko Pop! figurines will be trashed
The number of Funko Pop! figures headed to the dumpster is likely between 1.4 million and 3 million.

Methodology: I did some simple math using Funko Pop! figurine costs from the company’s website and a total inventory value of $36 million. If all the figurines headed to the dump are the cheaper models ($12 apiece), that’s 3 million Funko Pops! headed to the landfill. It’s unlikely that all the figurines are the highest cost models ($100 apiece), but if they were, that would be 360,000 figurines. I also ran the numbers using a median figurine value of $56 (which happens to be the approximate cost of the three Prince Funko Pops, which happens to be the gift one of my besties has asked for on multiple birthdays). If all the bobbleheads headed to the landfill cost Prince money, then that’s 642,860 figurines. Finally, I ran the numbers using $25 as an educated guess of actual average cost of the figurines to be dumped. Assuming that the least popular figures also cost the least (based on which figures are on clearance on the website) the actual average cost of the figures will most likely be well under $50. In the $25 scenario, there will be 1,440,000 Funko Pops headed to the dumpster. The actual figure will most likely be between 1.4 million and 3 million.

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Tarika Powell

Environmental policy expert living with PTSD. Writes about environmental policy, mental health, DE&I, and abuse culture. https://tarikapowell.com