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Issue 02/2018

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Cover Story Toy bricks

Cover Story Toy bricks from bio-PE BiOBUDDi presents first compatible toy bricks and unique new products This is a story that started 11 years ago, when Steven van Bommel from Venlo, The Netherlands, first came into contact with the Chinese company BanBao. The toy makers from Shantou (Province Guangdong) had just released their own Lego-compatible toy bricks in China. Both the toy bricks (the Lego patent on the bricks had expired in 1974) as well as the play sets and figurines they had designed themselves were and - and, for that matter, still are - made from ABS. Sensing an opportunity, the two entered into a partnership, in which Steven helped to develop and promote the BanBao toys (made of conventional plastics such as ABS and PP) outside of China, and with success: today, the toys are sold in 40 countries around the world. Around 5 years ago, Steven, now CEO of BanBao Netherlands, began work on the development of the larger sized (Duplo ® -compatible) bricks made from sugar cane-based PE. “It started with the development of a very special compound based on green PE,” Steven explained to bioplastics MAGAZINE during a visit to their headquarter in Venlo. The development, in cooperation with Wageningen UR, took about four years. “Our own secret recipe had to meet very stringent requirements for hardness and flexibility,” he said. The bricks needed to keep their shape – no warpage – and offer the necessary mechanical properties for easy assembly and disassembly even by the smallest children. “The bricks made from our compound have their own special haptic appeal. It’s a real nice soft touch, although the surface is rigid enough for the functionality,” he added. The whole compound is certified by DIN CERTCO (Germany) as made of 98% biobased carbon. Biodegradability was never an issue for Steven. “Why?” he asked. “If such products were biodegradable and ended up in the environment, it would take far too long for them to completely degrade. They would break down into small parts and maybe be eaten by animals – and that could harm the animals.” The bio-PE bricks are recyclable and, when disposed of in a waste incineration plant, are a source of renewable energy. Before the first bricks and other components could be produced, another year and a half was needed for the product and process optimization. Finally, the first BiOBUDDi educational line of toy bricks was introduced to the market early 2017, still under the BanBao brand name. Shortly after, a new company, called BiOBUDDi B.V. was founded. Biobuddi is independent from BanBao and produces all bio-PE toys in a production plant in Ter Aar, not far from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Steven: 22 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/18] Vol. 13

By: Michael Thielen “We are proud to produce here in the Netherlands and still, our retail prices are below those of the famous Danish product and those imported from Asia.” After the initial educational line, Biobuddi has now introduced their new Wildlife series of toy bricks, consisting of special parts with which animals such as lions, whales, elephants and many more, can be made. All these products are available solely from Biobuddi, although fully compatible with other “Duplo-sized” toy bricks on the market. The total portfolio currently comprises 34 different parts. “All injection moulds are produced in the Netherlands as well,” Steven added. “On the one hand we simply need precision and reliability and on the other hand, if moulds need to be modified or reworked … “. The paper cartons for the Biobuddi toys are made by Smurfit, who use 70 % recycled paper to make the boxes - another step towards making the product as sustainable as possible. Biobuddi toys are available in 12 countries around the world., including the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Bulgaria, (In Germany currently only online), but also Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai). This number will have risen to 28 countries by the end of this year. Toys Think Sustainable Cover Story M·VERA ® Bioplastics With our M·VERA® range of biobased and biodegradable plastics (certified to EN 13432), we provide you with customised solutions for your application: • Film Such as shopping bags, fruit and vegetable bags or agricultural films • Injection Moulding Such as packaging, coffee capsules, cutlery and others • Color, Carbon Black and Additive Masterbatches Our team of highly experienced plastic specialists is pleased to help you – contact us! BIO-FED Branch of AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH BioCampus Cologne · Nattermannallee 1 50829 Cologne · Germany Phone: +49 221 88 8894-00 Fax: +49 221 88 88 94-99 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/18] Vol. 13 23

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