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Issue 04/2016

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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1604

Toys Toys are not

Toys Toys are not child’s play And there is no better way to experience this first hand than with visiting a toy fair and being overwhelmed by the abundance of ideas, innovations and markets presented there. At these fairs you often find a green corner, packed with wooden toys. Unfortunately the love for educational toys and natural materials, that eco-conscious parents often have, is not always shared with the offspring, who rather prefers the shiny plastic stuff. Biobased plastics could help to bridge the gap here, but the reasons for their application in the field of toys are as diverse as are the resulting products. Wooden toys have a very long history and wood still is the go to for toy designers when putting emphasis on sustainability. It is very durable and can handle rough jobs but of course there are limitations, for example when it comes to flexibility or water contact. Biobased plastics can soften the boundaries and open the way for these applications too, while maintaining the renewable platform. A charming example for an innovative and young toy company is Tic Toys (Leipzig, Germany), from the beginning concentrating on the use of wood and paper. They started out reinventing classic games and toys, always with a new touch to it. For a new sporty field game, inspired by a hoop game from the 17 th century, they were searching for the right material for the ring. It should be tough enough to get back to its ring shape even after a sharp hit onto a concrete floor and of course: be biobased. Together with TECNARO (Ilsfeld, Germany) an ARBOBLEND ® grade was chosen and since 2013 their Tualoop ® is on the market, with a growing fan base. It can be played in variations like field game, golf or throwing targets and is recommended for children from the age of 6 but soon became a fun sport for adults, too. A different field in the realm of toys is pioneered by the young company Boxine (Düsseldorf, Germany), digital innovators revolutionizing the concept of radio play. Steered by microchips and enabled through WiFi and the cloud, little figurines – the Tonies ® – trigger a little radio cube – the toniebox ® – to reveal audio content, which can be custom made or readily purchased together with the figurines. This concept opens doors to many new possibilities that are still being explored. But this is not only a digital revolution – to put the cherry on the cake Boxine starts to make figurines from Arboblend bioplastics. Children can really put their environment to the test. For products especially designed for children, like toys, material engineers and quality managers have to anticipate, model and standardize these tests. Apart from the European children’s toys directive EN 71 there is a multitude of quality standards to be met, specific to the kind of toy. Toy bricks also started out as wooden toys, later being replaced by injection moulded alternatives (already with a short period where bioplastics were used) steadily improving quality and becoming the interlocking bricks now so common. The newly launched LUCKYS ® Natural Bricks (by EckPack from Darmstadt, Germany) are made from a novel biobased Arboblend grade specially designed as an equal alternative to ABS. Once again it is young, innovative and agile companies leading the way (back) to the future. MT www.tecnaro.de | www.tictoys.de www.tonies.de | www.luckys4kids.com 30 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/16] Vol. 11

Toys LEGO looks for sustainable alternatives In 1958, in Billund Denmark, Godtfred Kirk Kristiansen invented a simple system for clicking together small bricks, enabling decades of imaginative play for young and old in more than 140 countries. LEGO ® bricks make a positive impact through creative play, but, the Lego Group wants to do more; They also want to leave a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit. [1] That is why Lego is seeking for solutions to use sustainable materials for all core products and packaging by 2030. The Danish company is investing about EUR 135 million to make this ambitious challenge a reality. About a year ago Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the Lego Group, said “We have already taken important steps to reduce our carbon footprint and leave a positive impact on the planet by reducing the packaging size, by introducing FSC certified packaging and through our investment in an offshore wind farm. Now we are accelerating our focus on materials.” [2] The investment includes the establishment of a Lego Sustainable Materials Centre at the Group’s headquarters in Billund, Denmark. In order to achieve the challenging goal “to find alternative materials”, the Lego Group announced to hire more than 100 specialists within the materials field during the coming years. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen (Lego-group owner) said “Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We believe that our main contribution to this is through the creative play experiences we provide to children. The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit. It is certainly in line with the mission of the Lego Group and in line with the motto of my grandfather and founder of the Lego Group, Ole Kirk Kristiansen: Only the best is good enough”. With about 77,000 tonnes of petroleum-based plastics to make 60 billion bricks and other pieces for its sets in 2014 [3], finding new, innovative and more sustainable materials to make these parts would significantly reduce the Lego Group’s impact on the planet [1, 2]. Photo: Courtesy LEGO A/S To achieve these goals, Lego is working with suppliers, universities and partners such as World Wildlife Fund to research, develop and implement sustainable raw materials for Lego products and packaging [1]. An example is the new collaboration with WWF that was agreed in spring 2015 and focuses on better assessing the overall sustainability and environmental impact of new bio-based materials for Lego elements and packaging [2]. Erin Simon, Deputy Director, Sustainability R&D at World Wildlife Fund said “WWF is excited to work with the Lego Group to help meet our shared conservation challenges. By sourcing materials responsibly, we’re also helping to protect the ecosystems that we all rely on. We’re excited to help the Lego Group on its journey to source all of their materials responsibly.” [1] However, according to Tim Guy Brooks, Vice President Environmental Sustainability at Lego, “it is vital that any new materials introduced must meet our current quality, safety and play standards. The solution may not be one size fits all. We’re considering a mix of solutions that may include the use of plant-based plastics…” [1]. In a Wall Street Journal report [3] Brooks said they won’t rule out any possibilities in their search for alternatives, but Lego prefers that their new plastic be derived from waste materials, such as corn stalk or other agricultural waste “that doesn’t appear to serve any other purpose.” [3] Besides all environmental aspects, quality and functionality is really a challenge. Each Lego piece, whether basic blocks or the swiveling parts of figurines or technical components such as excavator shovels, must interlock with other pieces with unchanging precision [3]. “Making Legos is incredibly precise,” as Tim Guy Brooks pointed out, “we mold it to about four-thousandths of a millimeter,” The currently used ABS is “very durable, holds color really well…it even has a particular sound.” [3]. During Natureworks’ Innovation Takes Root conference in 2015, Allan Rasmussen (then Plastic & Innovation Manager at Lego) told bioplastics MAGAZINE, that the force to hold Lego bricks together must be big enough that they don’t fall apart by themselves. On the other hand, this force must be small enough for 2 – 3 year old kids to take them apart when they want to. Finding alternative materials, for example biobased plastics “is the right thing to do for Lego—fossil fuels are a finite resource and we know that,” Tim Guy Brooks said [3]. MT www.lego.com [1] Brooks, T.G.: Building up to sustainability: Lego Group’s journey, blog-post at http://www.worldwildlife.org/blogs/on-balance/posts/building-up-tosustainability-Lego-group-s-journey (27 April 2016) [2] Trangbæk R.R.: Lego Group to invest 1 billion dkk boosting search for sustainable materials (http://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/newsroom/2015/june/sustainable-materials-centre) [3] Chao, L.: Lego Tries to Build a Better Brick, http://www.wsj.com/articles/ Lego-tries-to-build-a-better-brick-1436734774 (July 2015) bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/16] Vol. 11 31

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