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Issue 04/2016

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Toys PHA resins for toys

Toys PHA resins for toys Within just a few years it will be possible to give all children eco-sustainable, biodegradable safe toys free from toxic substances. In the future this will be normal but in order to make this future arrive as soon as possible researchers are developing new solutions based on biopolymers that are capable of replicating and improving the thermo-mechanical, functional and aesthetic properties of the plastics in use today. “With our new Supertoys bioplastic, we think we can make a decisive contribution to the toys industry,” Marco Astorri, Chairman of Bio-on told bioplastics MAGAZINE. Bio‐on is an Italian company specialised in the development of biopolymers “100 % biodegradable in nature and made from renewable waste sources, without any competition with food supply chains”, as Marco said. This new special grade called Minerv PHA Supertoys has been used for the first time in the manufacture of building bricks. “Consumers around the world are now aware that today’s plastic is not suitable for children,” explained Marco Astorri, “You only have to read the thousands of online forums to realise this enormous shift in opinion. We know that these phenomena are unstoppable and it is precisely for this reason that we launched the Minerv PHA Supertoys project, which to date has no commercial goal and aims solely to demonstrate whether or not specific, eco-sustainable and completely biodegradable formulations can be created for making toys that are safe for children and the environment, without losing out on the end product’s functionality and aesthetic. This is very important for us: we want to introduce a new development methodology that places commercial and financial aspects on a secondary level, to be considered at a later stage, and focuses instead on the social aspect of the innovation.” Based on the Minerv PHA biopolymer developed by Bio-on and already tested in dozens of applications, from automotive to design to biomedical, Supertoys is safe, hygienic and biodegradable, it meets and exceeds the provisions of the recent European Directive 2009/48/EC, known as the TSD (Toy Safety Directive), implemented into the standard international procedure for toy safety evaluation EN 71. The research project is open to all laboratories and companies around the world working on toy design and aims to create two types of bioplastic by the end of 2017: Minerv PHA Supertoys type “R”, rigid and strong, and Minerv PHA Supertoys type “F”, ductile and flexible. To demonstrate the characteristics of this innovative material, LEGO ® -style stacking bricks in different colours have been produced. “We chose this product,” explained Mario Astorri, who founded Bio-on in 2007, “because it is very hard to make. It has a tolerance of 2 thousandths of a millimetre and the fact that we have succeeded in guaranteeing such a high quality level gives us confidence 26 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/16] Vol. 11

Toys Buss Laboratory Kneader MX 30-22 for future developments.” Bio-on is currently in contact with almost all the major players in the plastic toys sector, but the first partner with whom it began a collaboration is Italeri (Calderara di Reno, Italy), a long-standing leader in the static scale modelling field that designs, produces and sells in over 50 countries around the world and has a catalogue of hundreds of pieces, from the humble soldier to the aircraft carrier, with highly complex moulds. “We have always been very attentive in our choice of plastics,” said Gian Pietro Parmeggiani, who in 1962 founded Italeri near Bologna with Giuliano Malservisi, “and being able to create new models today with an eco-sustainable and completely natural material projects us towards the future. We feel involved in a journey, more than a simple business deal, that will bear fruit in the coming years.” One of the company’s reasons for collaborating with Bio-on on the development of this material was the strategic decision to win back the young and particularly the under 14s: an interesting challenge for a sector that seemed to have been abandoned by the young. However, Italeri has succeeded in bringing 3,500 students from some twenty schools (between 11 and 18 years of age) from the Emilia Romagna region into a collaboration project with the Italian Ministry of Education to teach modelling technique. “In many schools around the world, there is a return to the manual activities lost through excessive use of computers and smartphones,” explains Parmeggiani, “with this project and through modelling, we want to show the usefulness of manual activities in education. To be able to do that in the future with Supertoys natural products will place us at the cutting-edge in the coming years and in general will give undisputed added value to our production, including that targeting adults.” Italeri’s technicians and Bio-on’s researchers are running dozens of tests thanks to the availability of the many different-sized moulds used for the 600 models, including military vehicles, helicopters, ships, trucks, cars and motorcycles, for an overall production of approximately 1,500 items. For now, Supertoys development is at the experimental stage and no criticality has been encountered. All of this began at the laboratories of Bio-on, which designed and patented the world’s first fully bio-based PHAs plastic (certified since 2014 by the United States Department of Agriculture – USDA) and 100 % naturally biodegradable in water and soil (certified since 2008 by Vinçotte) without the use of chemical solvents. This exceptional product is obtained through the natural fermentation of bacteria fed by by-products from the agricultural industry with no competition with food supply chains. Bio-on biopolymers have exceptional properties that adapt to the injection and extrusion methods currently in use in the plastic industry and can cover a vast range of strategic applications: biomedical, packaging, design, clothing, automotive… and now toys too. MT Buss Kneader Technology Leading Compounding Technology for heat and shear sensitive plastics For more than 60 years Buss Kneader technology has been the benchmark for continuous preparation of heat and shear sensitive compounds – a respectable track record that predestines this technology for processing biopolymers such as PLA and PHA. > Uniform and controlled shear mixing > Extremely low temperature profile > Precise temperature control > High filler loadings Buss AG Switzerland bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/16] Vol. 11 27

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