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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1405

Toys From packaging

Toys From packaging fillers to toys Since 1994 the Loick group has been involved in the field of development and production of new types of products using sustainable resources as a replacement for the present application of plastics for these items. Alongside the production of bio-degradable products such as, for instance, packaging materials Farmfill ® , catering accessories and consumables Greenway and toys PlayMais ® the group also installs and operates bio-gas plants and solar farms all over Germany. The roots of the Loick group lie in the efforts of the farmer and land-owner Hubert Loick, to find new ways of increasing the value of his land and products he was growing - all within an ecological method for production, and also for disposal of agricultural waste. Today there are three primary areas with which the company is involved: 1. The original agricultural business covering around 800 hectares of own and leased agricultural land for the production of all kind of biomass and trade of fertilizers, 2. the production of biologically viable materials (packaging and bioplastics) from renewable resources (including maize starch) and … 3. the logical next step, the production of bioenergy by the use of biomass and biomass residue. With these three areas the company created a closed loop which contributes to maintaining and preservation of natural resources and avoids the use of nature’s resources for primary energy needs/usage and also avoids overloading the environment with even more scrap and waste material. The overall activities of the Loick group thus are oriented towards this closed loop concept based on a sustainable closed loop business. Setting up new loops and value added chains is the basic day-to-day activity of the group with the objective of extracting a maximum from the raw materials supplied and to producing the highest environmental return. It all started with Farmfill Farmfill products first appeared in the mid-1990s, based on maize and water. The ground used to grow maize etc was economically and ecologically suitable for this purpose but could not be used for the production of food or animal feeds (due to EU regulation on set-aside land). The foaming process of the packaging material is achieved by the release of water vapour in a twin-screw extruder without the use of any foaming agent. The production process thus offers clear advantages over the use of expanded polystyrene. The high environmental sustainability level of the Farmfill production process shows itself not only in the ease and simplicity of product disposal but also in the energy usage throughout the whole product life-cycle. So, in comparison with packaging chips based on the use of mineral oils, only about one quarter of the energy is required. With regard to the use of maize chips the whole corn is used which means that there is no call for costly energy usage to extract the starch. From culture through to waste disposal the focus is on 38 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/14] Vol. 9

Toys sustainable production. The amount produced is disposed of in the form of biologically degradable waste via the company’s own biogas installations which produce electric current, heat and cooling as environmentally friendly plants. Any remnants from the biogas production plant form the basis of the fertiliser for the next maize harvest. In this way the whole production process is part of a closed loop. Raw materials and energy sources are cared for, and nature enjoys the benefits. The maize is grown and used exclusively for industrial purposes and so none is able to find its way into the human food chain or animal feed. The biological packaging chips can basically be used several times. But in comparison with conventional plastic chips they also have clear advantages when it comes to disposal. The packaging chips are made from natural raw materials and are fully bio-degradable and, when thermally recycled (incinerated), they are CO 2 neutral. They can be equally well disposed of in bio-bins (as industrial compost), or disposed of in domestic rubbish – under no circumstances do they belong in the yellow bin system! FARMfill packaging chips are DIN 13432 certified by DIN CERTCO. The packaging material is shipped in bags (500 l/bag), or loose by the truckload. The Loick group recognised early on the problem of cost-intensive transport of large volumes, and appropriate research was carried out, often with the help of the research teams at the Fraunhofer UMSICHT (Oberhausen, Munich), and new types of innovative transport were developed. In 2010, for example, a special granulate for packaging filler production was developed which ultimately was the basis for the finished foam product. In simple terms, this product comes from a break in its production process immediately before the foaming stage. The last step can be carried out in a simplified process right at the client’s plant and the finished product can then be blown into the warehouse or store. The foaming factor is around 35. This means that one truck loaded with the compound (25 tonnes) could save 34 truck runs. This would overcome natural hurdles, such as additional transport to countries outside of Germany. With such help the business today is already taking the exports outside of European borders. The granulate is shipped to the customer in big bags, and shipment in sea-containers is also possible. A vacuum conveyor is used to fill the granulate into an extruder and is there foamed up using water vapour. It is also possible to produce different shapes at this stage, such as cylinders or others. First, German Telekom – and then PlayMais At the end of the 1990s the first customers (for instance Deutsche Telekom), expressed the desire for specially coloured packaging material. This was the start of a move towards colouring the normally white chips, using food colourings. Now almost any colour can be supplied. It was clearly happening - a very simple product was emerging to offer a totally new creative concept. If the packaging chips are slightly moistured they will stick together because of the starch content. And if they are made too wet they will simply dissolve. This effect was the birth of PlayMais (Play-Maize), the creative construction toy based on maize starch from the Loick group. A banal idea – the packaging chip – something completely new had been created. PlayMais - A box full of creativity! PlayMais, like the packaging material, is made from maize starch and coloured with food colourings. The maize used for PlayMais however, will be grown on land not used for foodstuff and animal fodder. PlayMais is 100% bio-degradable and toxicologically perfectly safe. It is particularly suitable for children from three years of age and was promoted for the first time at the Nuremberg international toy exhibition in bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/14] Vol. 9 39

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