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Issue 01/2023

  • Text
  • Automotive
  • Toys
  • Wwwbioplasticsmagazinecom
  • Editorial
  • Engineering
  • Biobased
  • Carbon
  • Sustainable
  • Materials
  • Recycling
  • Plastics
  • Germany
  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Toys Automotive Basics: Amorphous PHA Digital product passports

Toys Innovative

Toys Innovative collaboration for improved sustainability World Alive – the Spanish toy company from Barcelona, best known for Aqua Dragons, their famous hatch’n’grow aquatic pets – have shifted to biobased materials thanks to an innovative collaboration with bioplastics developer Biofibre (Altdorf, Germany). Aqua Dragons are living creatures – artemia salina crustaceans – sold as a kit including the eggs in their natural diapause hibernation state, plus an aquarium and other care accessories. Kids follow the steps to hatch and grow the Aqua Dragons, learning about their life cycle and anatomy, and taking responsibility for a living creature. This award-winning brand went viral during Covid lockdowns as parents sought out educational toys for kids stuck at home. Today, Aqua Dragons have over half a billion views on Tiktok, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and remain an evergreen favourite in toy stores. In 2021 World Alive embarked on a comprehensive organisational and product sustainability assessment, assisted by Sonia Sanchez (see pp 42), sustainability consultant and author of the whitepaper “Changing the World TOY BY TOY”. The sustainability goals planning process identified objectives to implement over a five-year period and a methodology for incorporating sustainability principles early in the product design process. The first stage of objectives was met in 2022 which saw the elimination of single-use plastics across multiple brands, and the introduction of rPET in some products’ permanent parts. Symbols denoting types of plastics were also added to product parts and instructions in order to facilitate correct recycling. The big challenge of the second stage of objectives was to re-create the high-quality clear plastic Aqua Dragons aquariums using bioplastic – a tricky problem requiring a bespoke solution. In search of a way forward, Amy Holden, founder of World Alive, connected with the team at Biofibre – a German bioplastics developer – at the bio!TOY Conference 2021 in Nuremberg. Biofibre develops and produces future-proof and pioneering biocompounds for various applications and industries, including toys. They analysed the specific sustainability challenge of Aqua Dragons aquarium: that it needs to be durable, transparent, and meet the high safety standards required of children’s products and were able to overcome several hurdles to create an innovative biobased version. One hurdle was preserving the transparency of the proposed compostable material aquarium when in contact with the mineral-loaded water in which Aqua Dragons grow. This was achieved by adding biobased functional aids to the PLA-based compound in correct concentrations. Similarly, with Biofibre’s expertise in sequential production from laboratory to commercial scale, the team was able to ensure that safety was not compromised. The biocompounds used for Aqua Dragons don’t include any harmful or toxic chemicals and meet EU EN71 safety requirements, as confirmed by testing at the renowned Technological Institute Aiju in Spain. The final result is a safe and clear plastic tank that meets the same specifications as before but has a significant reduction in fossil carbon, that barely has any petroleumbased ingredients, and that will eventually biodegrade – but not while you need it to look after your Aqua Dragons! Additionally, the improvements were made with optimal processability in mind, allowing production to run on existing tools with no need for additional investment. In the next step, the results will be transferred to live series production and enter the market. The collaboration has been a success for both parties and demonstrates the opportunities brought about by such innovative commercial partnerships. By combining biobased polymers with natural fibres, e.g. for the base and lid of the aquarium, Biofibre creates the basis for more sustainable solutions and thus contributes to reducing CO 2 emissions in the industry. The biocompounds are available in a range of colours with the option of a mottled biofibre-effect. With such visually appealing possibilities, Biofibre not only creates material innovations but also environmental awareness among young customers – an indispensable basis for future eco-friendly product developments. The Biofibre portfolio includes biobased and compostable materials for injection-moulding, extrusion, 3D printing, thermoforming, and blow-moulding applications. Thanks to strong partnerships throughout the supply chain, Biofibre is able to source sustainable raw materials with measurable environmental performance. Wherever possible, all raw materials are sourced locally and do not compete directly with food or animal feed. Looking to the future and World Alive’s product portfolio, there are further exciting opportunities for collaboration to create a carbon storage with biobased polymers, also in combination with natural fibres. MT | | 44 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/23] Vol. 18

Bioplastic toys for environmental awareness Toys Miniland (Onil, Alicante, Spain) is placing its grain of sand in developing eco-friendly toys that are more respectful of the environment. Little ones will learn the importance of taking care of the planet we live on while having fun playing. The toys continue to be highly resilient and durable which allows them to be used for a longer period of time and therefore also contributes to more sustainable and responsible use. Miniland’s eco-friendly toys contain natural materials reducing their environmental footprint and not jeopardizing the toy’s quality and overall properties. The eco-friendly collection includes products such as Eco Super Kim Bloc or Eco Math Connectable Bears, which are made of bio-polyethylene derived from bio-ethanol from sugar cane, an ecological, flexible, and durable material. As the drop-in biopolymer is chemically identical to conventional PE, it is fully recyclable without any problems. A green plastic with many possibilities Many bioplastics are made from naturally occurring resources and do not have the carbon footprint of petroleumbased plastics because they do not require petroleum refinement to be produced. Green PE, Miniland’s eco-friendly collection toys are made of, is a material with a negative carbon footprint which has a huge potential contribution to a low carbon economy. The idea of producing a biobased polyethylene from sugarcane ethanol was developed, from the very beginning, based on a preliminary life cycle assessment with project data which showed that the Green PE would be a more sustainable alternative. This research, carried out by ACV Brasil together with ifeu (Institute for Energy and Environmental Research), compares the impact of this material with fossil PE showing that the Green PE has a lower impact. Miniland is a company with 60 years of experience in infant toys and environmental respect is one of the company’s priorities under a project they called “Miniland Grow Green”. The company is governed by ESG criteria, which cover considerations related to the environment, society, and corporate governance. Those criteria are the key points when making more responsible decisions about the planet. Eco-design, circular economy, and energy efficiency are essential to make more responsible decisions and improve our footprint on Earth. Eco-design involves the use of eco materials in Miniland’s main product lines. In addition to toys and baby products made of bioplastic, wood from responsible forest certified by FSC (FSC-C173645) is also being used. Miniland’s energetic management system monitors the energetic consumption of the company to optimize it. In addition, the company has plans for energetic and hydric efficiency, solar panels, a plan for reducing the use of paper by digitalizing most of the administrative processes and prioritising local suppliers, among other aspects. Recently, Miniland has decided to take a step forward for the planet and be one of the few Spanish companies that calculates greenhouse gas emissions on a voluntary basis. In addition, this calculation has been verified by an external audit company and registered in the National Registry of Carbon Footprint. MT bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/23] Vol. 18 45

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