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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 A frontrunner takes

Toys A frontrunner takes position LEGO talks about the challenges of the toy industry With the third instalment of the highly acclaimed bio!TOY conference on the horizon sustainability expert and bio!TOY co-organiser, Harald Käb from narocon sat down with Søren Kristiansen, Sr. Technology Director Materials of the LEGO Group to talk about sustainability in the toy industry and how LEGO views the current challenges faced by both the toy as well as the plastics industry. What has already been done, what does the future hold? Søren will also be a speaker at the upcoming bio!TOY in March (see pp. 14) HK: The LEGO Group has become a frontrunner in the toy industry with regard to its sustainable material targets and activities. Can you elaborate on the process that led you to this point? SK: Sustainability has always been an integral part of the LEGO Group’s purpose, much due to the owner family’s desire to be a responsible corporate citizen. The LEGO Group’s mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, and we know we cannot do that unless we also help safeguard the planet for future generations. Our materials work began with the LEGO Group recognising that materials are our biggest challenge in our efforts to lower our environmental impact. We then made sure to set goals and formalise our ambitions, in order to embed our sustainable materials agenda in the overall strategy for the LEGO Group. Our ambition to make our products from more sustainable materials was announced over a decade ago in 2012. It has since become apparent that adaption was, is, and will be key to finding more sustainable materials for our products. We initially only focused on biobased materials, and later began looking at recycled materials. Today, we’re also looking to the future and exploring what opportunities electrification and carbon capture can bring. Lastly, we quickly realised that this is not a challenge we can solve on our own. We need to join forces with peer companies, start-ups, universities, and even children to foster innovation and creative solutions – to help us all succeed in solving the climate crisis. HK: Sustainability experts often consider durable products that can be used over generations as desirable. But what sustainability attributes are missing from the current materials you use? SK: The durability of LEGO products is extremely important from both a safety and sustainability perspective. We are not willing to compromise our high quality as we introduce more sustainable materials. The key parameter that we want to improve is the carbon footprint of our materials and there are many ways to achieve this. The most obvious solution is to use biomass as feedstock in order to avoid fossil feedstock, and waste fractions have become increasingly relevant as an alternative to fossil feedstock. In addition, renewable energy will come to play a significant role in the manufacturing of materials in the future. Ultimately, the need for these circular solutions raises the question: which materials are best suited for LEGO products? HK: The LEGO Group has previously spoken about its materials progress, e.g. the adoption of biobased PE and its research efforts on the use of recycled PET. What is your current view on the role of these materials? SK: PE is an important material but a relatively small material for the LEGO Group, as a smaller proportion of LEGO elements are made from it. We have found a biobased solution for PE that works well, but our curiosity does not stop there. We are also exploring alternative routes to biobased for our PE elements. rPET has proven to be a potential solution for the classic LEGO brick, and we may therefore see rPET play a big role in our sustainable materials portfolio. That being said, rPET is competing with other materials such as more sustainable versions of present materials, such as ABS. HK: What has turned out to be the biggest challenge for the LEGO Group and its materials ambition to use more renewable and recycled sources? SK: If we were to pick one, it would be the time it takes to successfully upscale and implement. Going from 1 gram to 1,000 tonnes of a new material takes resources, time, and investment. In addition to developing a new material, new product design, new moulds, new production equipment, and new knowledge is often also required to complete the transition. HK: What is the most important sustainability achievement needed in the polymer industry? SK: It’s simple. We must all achieve the same thing: reduce the climate impact, as fast as possible. HK: Who do you expect to take the lead on accelerating sustainable production and consumption? And whose responsibility is it: industry, governments and legislators – or consumers? SK: Everyone has a responsibility to lead in their individual field but there are great opportunities to join forces and work together towards the same goal. A systemic change is required of both industry and society, and the question is how we can all connect, align, and collaborate. Consumers can signal their wants and requirements. Scientists can develop new technologies to address complex systems. 46 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/23] Vol. 18

Interview Harald Käb, narocon rPET prototype LEGO bricks Søren Kristiansen, LEGO Group bio-PE LEGO elements Politicians can ensure necessary standards and regulations are in place. And we, as industries must challenge ourselves to find better solutions. HK: LEGO products are very durable, but will there be a need for biodegradable materials too? SK: No, biodegradability is contradictory to what we aim for. We want our products to reach as many children as possible. They can be passed down through generations and we want LEGO bricks to create new play value for as long as possible. We are, however, exploring opportunities to use old products as feedstock for new products. bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/23] Vol. 18 47

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