The success of the bio!TOY event held last week in Nuremberg, Germany's 'Toy Capital', confirms the potential of the toy industry for biobased plastic materials. Participants welcomed the conference as a platform for dialogue and cooperation.
Toys made of plant-based plastics instead of crude oil - this was the premise of the inaugural bio!TOY conference that took place on 27 and 28 March 2019 in Nuremberg, Germany. As conventional plastics continue to be a topic of public debate, industries across the board are turning to alternative material solutions – and the toy industry is no exception. The bio!TOY event, which attracted major players from the entire value chain, covered topics ranging from technical and ecological issues to practical examples in the market. The participants agreed that there is a huge development potential for biobased plastic applications in the toy industry.
The event, which was jointly organised by bioplastics MAGAZINE and German innovation consultancy narocon, attracted 90 delegates from companies around the world, including brands such as Habermaaß, Mattel, Playmobil and Zapf Creation. Speakers and exhibitors from the bioplastics industry included DuPont, Hexpol, Neste and Total-Corbion, as well as compounders such as Tecnaro and FKuR.
"The bio-pioneers of the industry are role models," explains Michael Thielen, publisher of bioplastics MAGAZINE, "they have attractive materials, good products - and convincing ideas. Although the ‘bio-toy’ industry is still in its infancy, experts are confident of its potential for development. "We have to shape a sustainable future, and these innovative plastic alternatives are a must," said Uwe Stützle of Ravensburger, spokesman for the Expert Committee for Technology and Environment of the German Toy Industry Association (DVSI) in his welcoming address.
Lego is fully committed to transitioning to the use of sustainably sourced biobased plastics, as Nelleke van der Puil, Vice Presidents Material demonstrated in her presentation. The company already produces a number of sustainable elements from biobased PE derived from sugar cane. Braskem, the company supplying the bio-PE, has already discovered the toy industry as a target group. "We are experiencing strong demand," said exhibitor and speaker Patrick Zimmermann of FKuR, a company whose product portfolio includes a bio-PE from Braskem with over 90% biocontent, a 30% biobased PET material and a range of proprietary, tailor-made bio compounds.
At the conference, Bioseries presented its PLA-based baby toys, while Zoe B Organic gave a talk about the range of biodegradable beach toys it offers. Both companies are led by women and are among the true pioneers of development. Highlights of the conference also included interviews, which - taking a cue from the sports world - were conducted against the backdrop of a logo wall. The wall of bioplastic building blocks was specially constructed by the Austrian startup BioBlo. "No toy conference without play and fun - no matter how serious the topic may be in view of the global plastics discussion and climate change," says Harald Käb of narocon, who came up with the idea.
Ulrich Brobeil, Managing Director of DVSI, comments on the cooperation: "We liked being partners and learned a lot. The field is complex. The association and its member companies therefore have to be on the move and keep moving constantly. The DVSI has its eye firmly on the political situation, the sensitized end consumer and the challenge for the companies, including the areas of sustainable packaging, packaging reduction and recycling.”
Image: Organisers of the bio!TOY event, Harald Kaeb (narocon) and Michael Thielen (bioplastics Magazine) pose for a selfie in front of the logo wall.