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Issue 03/2019

Highlights: Toys Injection Moulding Basics: Microplastics Mind the right terms Captured CO2

Toys Baby toys – safe

Toys Baby toys – safe and sustainable Simple, down to earth designs made from the safest of biomaterials may be the classic playthings of tomorrow The Bioserie brand was created at the end of 2009 as an initiative of bioplastic enthusiasts eager to use these exciting new materials to make durable consumer products. While the first products were phone accessories, the self-funded Hong-Kong-based venture soon turned to developing and selling toys. The founders, who are also parents, wanted to use their know-how to bring to families useful basics made entirely of biomaterials, that were smart, fun to play with, and convenient for day-to-day use. The company decided first to focus on baby toys: logically speaking, babies are the ones at greater risk when exposed to traditional plastics. Concern is mounting, both among medical experts in the pediatrics field and the general public, about the lack of (sufficient) screening for the use of harmful chemicals in the toy industry. Since Bioserie has been committed from the start to using only non-petrochemical components, they are firmly convinced that they can answer the needs of the most worried and demanding clients of the sector: parents of babies and infants. From idea to product Building a new product line that works, with only limited means at their disposal, the brand’s founders have had to be resourceful. First, that meant taking into account the limitations of the material they are working with, which is mostly PLA based. The costs of the PLA compound are significantly higher than that of conventional commodity plastics. Injection moulding cycle times are longer, and it is necessary to use moulds of very high quality. The material is fairly rigid and prone to breaking if not managed properly. 16 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/19] Vol. 14

Toys Therefore, design ideas had to be screened with all these factors in mind to determine the shapes that could be used; and the team had to anticipate potential pain points during assembly or fitting to minimize later trial and error testing processes. Of course, they also had to take into account the price limit that would be acceptable for consumers. They have therefore positioned their offering at prices comparable to toys made from natural materials, such as wood, natural rubber or eco-fabrics. They knew from the start that they would not be able to compete with regular plastics: their objective was to make no compromises on their value proposition and refuse to use any petrochemical additives. Both by necessity, but also because they believe that quality is better than quantity, Bioserie’s owners decided to build a line focused on the basic needs of babies, with six different types of products: • Stage 1 (babies aged 0-3 months): Two simple toys for babies to teethe on and to help them grasp (Star Teether and Interlocking Disks, both available in two colors); • Stage 2 (babies aged 3-6 months): Two rattles which encourage observation skills and the discovery of the cause and effect relationship (one round shaped rattle and one dumbbell shaped rattle), • Stage 3 (babies aged 6-12 months): Two types of stackers which are about matching and learning shapes, sizes, and improving gross motor skills. Bioserie has obtained a patent for the design of its Shape Sorting and Stacking Cube, and their 2-in-1 Stacker has proved to be one of their most popular items over the past year. The progressive concept of the product line is communicated by different colors on the packaging sides for each developmental stage. The importance of teamwork To get to this point, the brand has been fortunate in being able to gather together a team of motivated and talented people to support them. The brand owners have worked with Batug Koprulu, an industrial designer, to formalize their design ideas and transform sketches into a 3D reality. They have had the support of Dominic Mak, who is a renowned biomaterials scientist, as well as endorsement from leading figures in the toy and nursery industry, such as Pamela Marcus, who created the now famous Lifefactory brand, and Jeff Cornelison, who worked for a long time for Kids II. Making 100 % biobased toys is no easy game, as Bioserie discovered, and far more is needed than scientific knowledge alone. Dedication and enthusiasm is required from everyone involved in the chain to make it work: the people with the idea and the people who actually help turn these ideas into real and effective products. And the process is one of constant fine-tuning. The first toy test run was in 2015, a patent process in 2016 was initiated and since 2017, the company has been creating its own compound, as a means to increase supply chain reliability and facilitate scaling up scenarios. Compounding now takes place at the injection moulding facilities. By: Stephanie Triau Bioserie The Bioserie team now feels that they have a CPLA compound that delivers what they wanted: no petrochemicals, high temperature resistance, a better melt flow vs. other compounds they have used, consistency of results across all the different geometries used, good quality touch and feel results. That said, they’re always on the lookout for potential new additives that could enhance the product or make the job easier or better and are frequently in conversations with players in the field. From the product to the consumer Yes, we’re at a time when the biobased materials trend is going mainstream. 85% of consumers have stated they are committed to buying more sustainable products; policy makers and big brands have also implemented strong initiatives in this direction. However, from Bioserie’s perspective, the key selling point for what they do is chemical safety: over 70% of consumers actually prioritize health and safety over environmental concerns. To communicate their difference vs. other materials clearly to customers, Bioserie is proud to have received two exclusive certifications. Their toys are the first and only to be 100 % biobased certified by the USDA (ASTM D6866: no fossil carbon), and to have obtained MADESAFE’s certification (MADESAFE is a growing third party certification in the US which focuses on non-food products and thoroughly screens each and every chemical used to ensure that they are not dangerous for human health nor for our environment). According to Bioserie, biobased products like theirs should be considered to be “new luxury products”. In other words, products customers can trade up for in their particular category, i.e spend more on them and waive the price concern). Bioserie focusses and delivers on the three key points that influence the decision process: they have technical differences (good design), they deliver health and environmental benefits (a functional performance), and they allow their buyers them to do their bit for the environment (we all like to support a good cause, and these toys don’t use anything that can’t grow again). www.bioserie.com bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/19] Vol. 14 17

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