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Green Toys Set to Launch Line of Bioplastic Toys

San Francisco-based Green Toys is launching a line of what it calls environmentally friendly toys.  The toys will be made from a bio-based plastic produced by Cereplast.

Green Toys’ product lineup is made from Cereplast bio-based plastic resin.  Cereplast resin is made from corn, wheat, potato and tapioca starches as opposed to petroleum.

Green Toys are produced using an injection molding process.  Because of this, the Cereplast resin is combined with polylactide (PLA) from NatureWorks LLC.  PLA is a versatile polymer that is made from a complex process beginning with corn.

In order to achieve some of the physical characteristics needed for Green Toys it was necessary to combine the Cereplast resin with PLA into one final product, explained Kevin Oates from Cereplast’s PR firm Ketchum.

NatureWorks PLA is the world’s first and only performance plastic made from 100 percent annually renewable resources.  NatureWorks LLC is a stand-alone company owned by agricultural giant Cargill.

Green Toys is using biodegradable colorants from PolyOne Corporation in order to give its toys their color.   PolyOne Senior Product Manager Carl Knight said, “the colorants enhance the esthetic without disturbing the compostability of the product.”  The colorants used in the Green Toys application fall under PolyOne’s OnColor(tm)BIO product line.  “We worked with Green Toys to design a custom solution for them – the colors are specific to Green Toys,” Knight said.

In terms of packaging Green Toys is said to be still working on their final packaging design.  They had released an image of a tentative packaging design however that is changing.  The final design will use 100 percent paper board instead of plastic or clam shells.  The company says its packaging is made from recycled paper products.

All aspects of production of Green Toys are done in the U.S., which Robert von Goeben, a partner at Green Toys told toy industry magazine Playthings was another example of an earth-friendly aspect of his company.

According to Kirk Green of Green Toy’s PR firm, Gonzo Communications, Green Toys will be available to consumers after October 1 through the web and at specialty retailers.  The line made its debut at the San Francisco International Gift Fair during the last week of July.

Since the products are not yet available for sale it is too early to gauge their popularity with consumers. Reaction within the toy and plastics industries to the new bioplastic toys runs the gamut from excitement to concern.

Von Goeben says that the response from retailers has been thrilling, and has even caught some of Green Toy’s reps off guard. “Reps think they have their finger on the pulse of the industry, and said that we really came out of left field, so they’re excited about it because it was not on their radar.”

Design News Contributing Materials Editor Doug Smock isn’t convinced the use of biodegradable plastics is a positive move.  “There is no environmental advantage to biodegradable packaging unless you’re the type who throws wrappers out of your car window,” he says.

“Their (Green Toys) pitch is simple and fair: plastics made from corn or potatoes use less energy to produce than plastics made from oil. There is no documentation of that claim on their web site, however, and there should be because fuel made from corn (ethanol) may consume more petroleum than it saves.”

It will be very interesting to see consumer reaction to Green Toys.  If nothing else the line is a significant innovation in the use of bioplastics.

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