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Issue 03/2019

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

Toys According to the

Toys According to the latest market data compiled by European Bioplastics in cooperation with the research consultancy nova- Institute, global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase from around 2.11 million tonnes in 2018 to approximately 2.62 million tonnes in 2023. Furthermore, it is a fact that bioplastics are being used in an increasing number of markets, from packaging, catering products, consumer electronics, toys, the automotive industry, agriculture/horticulture, to textiles and a number of other industries. Despite these positive prospects, the high cost and difficulty of achieving certain mechanical or thermal properties with currently existing biobased materials are some drawbacks that have arisen. Currently, AIJU is working on two projects related to biodegradable materials. The first, the B-PLAS project, whose objective is to achieve an automated treatment plant that enables food waste, WWT (Waste Water Treatment) sludge, and other organic waste to be cheaply and efficiently converted into polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), a biodegradable plastic of biological origin, useful for packaging, one-use articles, toys, among other uses. The second, Becoming Green, aims to develop and improve some properties (thermal or mechanical) of biobased plastics to adapt them to the quality and safety requirements of consumer products, toys, and the household sector. The power of the play proposal: sustainable topics The TrendGallery at the Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair is a platform which presents the latest toy trends with new toys and know-how for the industry. In 2018, it announced the new trend Explore Nature, which continues to be important. This trend is about encouraging children to discover nature and its inhabitants for themselves and experience and investigate the world with all their senses. Children learn about the adult world through play. Themes such as fruits, vegetables, gardening, and the observation and exploration of the environment are great for this. Parents really perceive them as perfect ways to instil good values related to sustainability. It is also possible to raise awareness by introducing topics related to recycling. Toy recycling trucks have been seen before, but now the theme is being used in board games, dolls, ride-ons and other toy categories as well. Gentle manufacturing processes: do it and communicate it Beyond positively valuing sustainable products, new parents seek companies which are consistent in all their actions — not only by introducing eco-friendly materials and themes, but also the manufacturing process involved, which is obviously a relevant aspect when analysing whether a toy company is offering sustainable alternatives for the children’s sector. One possibility is to employ eco-friendly processes. This means using manufacturing processes that are sustainable or respectful to the environment, renewable energy sources, meeting safety standards, having environmental certifications, or creating healthy work environments. Moreover, it is possible to reinforce the concept of sustainability by communicating the social value which the toy brings to the market. This means taking into consideration not only the “made in”, but also the “made by”, which is crucial. Some companies are deciding to manufacture in countries and areas where they can actually have a positive impact on the community, helping specific people in need. These actions are also perceived as sustainable. Children’s companies should communicate these good practices to the final consumer. Those which are most conscious of this aspect are involved in designing specific self-explanatory icons and graphics to be included in their packaging, introducing sustainable values in their claims, and creating sustainable manifestos or environmental campaigns supporting reforestation or endangered species by donations to NGOs and non-profit organisations. Conclusion There are several ways to implement changes and strategies into children’s products and marketing campaigns in order to be able to achieve improvements in the sustainability of businesses in the children’s sector. In this sense, toys are a powerful tool to educate the society of the future by opting for materials and processes that are more respectful of people and the environment, and, moreover, by generating play proposals related to helping children acquire an ecological vision of the world. Today’s new parents — millennials that are becoming mums and dads — are more aware of their contradictions as consumers and feel the need to act. They seek to bring up their children with sustainable products in multiple areas — such as fashion, food, and toys — more so now than ever before. The eco concept in toys will grow in importance for many years! www.aiju.info Figure 2. Ride-on toy (top) and furniture (bottom) performed with MASTALMOND biobased masterbatches. 24 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/19] Vol. 14

Toys Toymakers find many paths to sustainability Toys are one of the most competitive consumer markets. Parents have a myriad of choices from hundreds of manufacturers. In the past decade several toy companies have distinguished themselves in a crowded marketplace by offering toys made with materials created to lighten their environmental impact. Successful companies convey specific value propositions for their products that allow consumers to understand how these products can help contribute to a more sustainable world. Green Dot Bioplastics (Emporia, Kansas, USA) is proud to have worked with award winning toymakers, creating 100% plant-based biocomposites for plastic toys. And, they have helped to make toys designed to biodegrade when their useful life has ended. “We’re also excited to be working with companies seeking to make toys that consumers already know and love more sustainable by reducing non-renewable resources used in its production,” says Kevin Ireland, Communications Manager at Green Dot Bioplastics. “We think that all of these strategies are beneficial, and believe that consumers will respond positively when presented with a clear and accurate value proposition. It’s not enough to simply say a product is ‘greener,’ brand owners must tell consumers how toys are more sustainable and why this matters.” Understanding material properties and the environmental advantages of bioplastic materials is a crucial first step for both product development and marketing. Bioplastics made from plant-based materials decrease dependence on fossil resources, and can lower GHG emissions. Biodegradable bioplastics can serve as an integral role in a closed loop system, where feedstocks are returned to nature after their useful life has ended. In addition, bioplastics are free from toxic plasticizers that parents seek to avoid, like petroleumbased phthalates and bisphenol A. Not all of these features may be beneficial to all consumers. For instance, a biodegradable toy may not be compelling if industrial composting is not available or if the composting facilities are not willing to take biodegradable plastics. Environmental claims do not equate to environmental benefits if consumers are not able parts. to take advantage of them. While some companies have focused on creating toys that are made completely from renewable plant-based materials, or are completely biodegradable, others focus on making their products more sustainable incrementally – adding renewable materials like plant-based fibers and starches to petroleum-based plastics. These fillers and fibers can decrease non-renewable petroleumbased feedstocks by more than half, and can imbue a more natural aesthetic to plastic This incremental approach can also make a compelling value proposition for consumers. Substituting fibers, starches, or plant-based polymers for fossil-based feedstocks can have significant environmental advantages. For instance, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, reducing petroleum-based feedstocks by just 10 % can save 280 million barrels of oil a year, reducing CO 2 emissions equivalent to the sequestration of 100 hectares (250 acres) of forest. Toymakers continue to be on the vanguard of creating safer, more sustainable plastics. “At Green Dot we are committed to serving their needs with plastics that are designed to decrease the use of petroleum-based feedstocks, increase the use of plant-based feedstocks, encourage the use of reclaimed and recycled feedstocks, and enhance the performance of biodegradable feedstocks,” Kevin adds.MT www.greendotbioplastics.com bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/19] Vol. 14 25

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