Binabo is now made of Green PE!
At TicToys we are constantly looking for ways to improve our products. Not only the design of our toys plays a role, but also the material from which they are made.
That's why we're happy to announce today that we've taken an important step towards sustainability and improved playability: We're switching to a new bio-based bioplastic for the production of Binabo!
But what does that actually mean? What are bioplastics and why did we decide to make this switch? In this blog post we would like to answer these questions and give an insight into the world of bioplastics.
What is meant by bioplastics?
Before we get into the specific advantages of the materials we use at TicToys, let's first clarify what bioplastics actually are. The term 'bioplastic' can be misleading as it can be applied to different types of materials, most of which are not necessarily biologically sourced.
Bioplastics: bio-based & biodegradable plastics
There are two main categories of bioplastics: bio-based plastics and biodegradable plastics. Bio-based plastics are made from renewable raw materials such as corn starch or sugar cane. They are not necessarily biodegradable, but in some cases can be recycled.
Biodegradable plastics, on the other hand, can be broken down by microorganisms. They can be made from bio-based or fossil raw materials. It is important to note that not all biodegradable plastics are compostable. Some require special conditions to be mined. There are also mixed variants and admixtures of bio-based plastics to conventional plastics.
Bio-based plastics have significant advantages compared to conventional plastics, especially in terms of CO2 emissions. Since they are made from renewable raw materials, they bind CO2. Even if it is burned, only the CO2 originally stored in the plants is released. In addition, bioplastics, especially biodegradable ones, can help facilitate the transition to a circular economy. They can be returned to the natural cycle instead of ending up in landfill or polluting the environment.
Binabo - Green PE construction toy
We are happy to announce that we at TicToys are now using a variant of the Green PE from the FKuR company for our Binabo toy. This plastic is bio-based, which means it is made from biomass but is not biodegradable. Our main focus is on the stability and longevity of the material to ensure a durable and robust product. The raw material for Green PE is a residual product of sugar production, which is from the 3rd-5th Pressing of sugar cane is obtained. Therefore, our bioplastic does not compete with food production. This is an important aspect of our sustainable production philosophy. Our new material consists of at least 94% plant-based raw materials. The emphasis is on 'at least', since the proportion can certainly be higher. The remaining 6 percent is a safety margin to map possible contamination and inaccuracies in the measurement process.
Why are we changing the material?
You're probably wondering why the step of using a new material was even necessary. After all, Binabo has always (!) been made from a bioplastic. To anticipate one thing: No, it's not about saving costs and producing cheaper. We have been conducting long-term tests with various organic materials for several years in order to further optimize Binabo!
The advances in the development of bioplastics in recent years are impressive. Today there is a plethora of suppliers and a variety of formulations. So far we have opted for a compound made from sugar cane that is enriched with wood fibers. However, this addition of wood fibers brought with it a disadvantage: If the components were stretched significantly over a longer period of time (several months or longer), fractures occasionally occurred. This was extremely unsatisfactory for us and in no way met our high standards for the longevity of the product, an important indicator of its sustainability. With the use of Green PE from FKuR, we are now taking an important step in Binabo's quality assurance! Long-term tests show that the Binabo chips are almost indestructible! In addition, our Green-PE is just as recyclable as conventional PE. In fact, not using wood fiber even increases recyclability! After all, the purer a plastic is, the better it can be recycled!
softer, more flexible, better playable
Binabo's elements require a certain strength to ensure the dimensional stability of the constructed objects. For example, the balls you build can actually be used to play without falling apart again! However, customer feedback advised us that the construction system was a bit too challenging for smaller children who are not yet able to use the strength to bend the components with their fingers. For this reason, we have always only recommended Binabo for children from the age of 5, but especially for children of primary school age. With the new recipe, we have now found a plastic that is both soft enough to be easily built by smaller children (from 3 years) and strong enough to meet the requirements for stability of the constructed objects. And the best thing about it: This is achieved completely naturally, without the addition of plasticizers or similar substances!
Our assessment of bioplastics:
There are legitimate objections to bioplastics that we do not want to ignore. Some critics point out that bioplastics are essentially carbon-based polymers (like traditional plastics) and therefore, unless they are biodegradable, offer no environmental benefit. In addition, it is argued that the cultivation of the biomass required for production takes up land and is therefore in competition with food production. However, we would like to counter these concerns:
Bio-based plastics have the potential to sustainably reduce emissions of climate-damaging CO2. The Green PE we use is a so-called bio-based drop-in bioplastic. This means that it can be recovered and recycled in the established recycling systems. In this way, CO2 is circulated sustainably. Even if the plastic is burned at the end of its life cycle, only as much CO2 is released as the plant absorbed from the atmosphere during its growth.
The bioethanol used to produce Green PE is made from a by-product of sugar production. Land use for the cultivation of bioplastics is very low. It is estimated that even if all fossil plastics were to be completely converted to plant-based plastics, only 4-7% of the world's land area would be required for this. To put this in perspective, in 2021, 0.7 million hectares worldwide were devoted to growing biomass for bioplastics. In contrast, the food thrown away in Germany alone takes up a land area of 2.6 million hectares (sources: European Bioplastics (2021), FAO Stats (2020), nova-Institute (2021), and Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (2019), University of Virginia (2016) WWF, The Big Throw Away (2017)). Info: www.european-bioplastics.org