Toymakers are taking the lead on sustainable plastics, according to Kevin Ireland, the communications manager for Green Dot, a Kansas-based producer of secondary plastics resins as well as bioplastics and biocomposites.
Among the homes for recycled plastic has been Luke’s Toy Factory, Danbury, Connecticut. The company was looking for a biocomposite material for its American-made toy trucks and trains, according to Ireland. “They wanted something with a natural wood look and feel that could also be injection molded to make the parts of the vehicle,” he adds.
Ireland says Luke’s Toy Factory “needed a material that could be colored to avoid the problem of peeling paint [and] they also wanted a material that would be durable even if left outside. Luckily, Green Dot’s Terratek WC meets all of these requirements. The wood-plastic composite combines wood and recycled plastic in a small pellet form, which is ideal for injection molding.”
Green Dot, according to Ireland, “Provides designers and molders with materials to meet the growing demand for more sustainable plastic.”
He continues, “Plastics are seemingly the ideal raw material for toys. They’re relatively inexpensive, easy to clean, durable and can be molded into just about anything.”
However, the widespread use of plastic in the toy sector “has created its own set of problems,” says Ireland, including the “the twin prospects of having a uniquely massive carbon footprint and the severest consequences for a vulnerable user-base if it neglects to make a change to more sustainable plastics.”
The biocomposite plastic used by Luke’s Toy Factory combines natural fibers or wood flour with recycled, biodegradable or biobased plastics “to create durable weather-resistant toys,” says Ireland.