Christmas is just around the corner, and our stockings will
soon be filled up with presents. As the used of biobased materials continues to
spread, this results in ever more biobased products on the consumer market, and
thus potentially wrapped up under our trees.
Here we have compiled our list of the biobased presents
we’re hoping to get this year. Don’t worry: we’re not getting socks this year –
we've kept clothes to a minimum on this list, as we’ve already discussed our Top 10 Biobased Clothes (which doesn’t actually include socks…).
Okay, so maybe we’re a bit old for these, but these toy
vehicles demonstrate important properties that bioplastics have, allowing them
to compete with fossil-based plastics. Toys need to both be durable and safe,
and also need to be easily moulded and coloured: as these toys demonstrate, all
of this is now achievable with bioplastics. The plastic in question is
Braskem’s I’m green plastic, which is derived from sugar, and is fast becoming
one of the most ubiquitous bioplastics on the market. Toys remain a massive
market for plastics, and present a fantastic opportunity for bioplastics to
increase their presence in the public eye.
But one kind of toy that you’re never too old for is
building blocks. They remain a massive individual toy market, and also
demonstrate another property that plastics need to have in this market:
consistency. By their nature, building blocks need to come in a wide variety of
shapes and colours but retain consistent properties. The LEGO group have invested
a large amount of money in attempting to make their bricks biobased, but have
not yet released any. They have been beaten to the punch by BanBao, a Chinese toy
company, whose building blocks are 100% biobased – they highlight that no
petroleum based plastics are used as additives – as are all of the stickers,
packaging and adhesives. This is a fantastic achievement for the biobased toys
sector to have a product that is completely biobased in all its aspects, and as
a bonus, the blocks are manufactured in the Netherlands, thus providing a boost
for the European bioeconomy also.
Through the cold of the winter months, it is important to keep oneself warm, and thus stylish knitwear can make ideal gifts. We like these hats in particular because of the innovative biobased material they are made from. The hats are knitted from a mixture of luxury wool and Bolt Threads' Microsilk, which mimics natural spider silk in its properties. We've previously featured Bolt Threads on our top 10 biobased clothes, as their materials are truly unique, possessing no petroleum-based analogues, and thus a host of novel properties, demonstrating the full potential of biobased materials. Unfortunately, these hats have all now sold out across all 10 styles, which is encouraging, as it shows consumer backing for innovative biobased products.
As smartphones’ popularity has spread, to the point where many
of us now own one, the only thing as seemingly ubiquitous as the phones themselves
are their cases. It is important that these cases are both good-looking and
durable for them to sell, but they also need to be disposable: once we shift to
the newest smartphone model, our old cases become obsolete. Pela have now
developed a phone case made from a mixture of bioplastic and flax fibres, that
is not only biobased, but is also completely compostable. This is an important
step for this sector, as awareness is high of phone recycling (to prevent
harmful metals entering the environment) but necessarily of their accessories –
perhaps a product such as Pela’s could see a mutual boost for these recycling
efforts. The company recommends the cases be sent for industrial composting,
but the cases will also degrade in domestic composters, albeit on a longer time-scale
(as long as three years).
This was featured in our top 10 biobased clothes, but we like it so much it is here as well. The jacket is groundbreaking as it is the first 100% biobased jacket. The jacket shows a high performance in its weatherproofing, as well as being stylish and comfortable, and has already received awards for its environmental contributions.
In the aftermath of eating far too much over the Christmas
period, many of us will take up New Year’s resolutions to keep fit and exercise
more. One product that helps with that is the LUDAVI drinks bottle,
manufactured by Sungo in Taiwan using Evonik’s bioplastic. The properties of
such a product are self-evident: it needs to be waterproof, weatherproof, and
durable. The LUDAVI bottle is certainly all of these things, with Evonik
claiming the bottle is “virtually indestructible”, as well as having the
thermal insulation and resistance properties to allow it to store hot drinks.
The plastic is not 100% biobased, so there is still room for improvement, but
the bottle remains a good choice for those who want to look after the environment
as well as themselves.
But it's not just those of us wanting to keep fit who might want to carry drinks with us. After a long day's hiking in the countryside, nothing is better than a cold beer, and so this remarkably specific product is ideal for those of us who love the outdoors. Specifically designed with the intention of keeping beer cold on hikes, Ullr's growler bags feature DuPont Tate & Lyle's CORDURA biobased fabric, and membranes made with Susterra propanediol. But the biobased impact of these materials is found more than just on the shelves: they are inspired by DuPont Tate & Lyle's involvement in the brewing industry, for which they produce biobased heat transfer fluids, thus demonstrating that the biobased products we buy as consumers may be utilised elsewhere too.
Those of us with very young
family members won’t be wanting to risk our good crockery during Christmas dinner,
and so eKoala’s baby dining set offers a biobased solution to this. The set is
made from bioplastic, and is 100% biodegradable (although it is not said under
what conditions). For such an application, the plastic needs to be completely
non-toxic to avoid food contamination, and must also be heat-resistant due to its
interaction with hot food.
In 2018, the football world cup will take place in Russia, sure
to be one of the greatest sporting spectacles on the calendar. This competition
will also have its own subtle biobased feature: the match ball. The synthetic
rubber used in the official 2018 match balls is up to 70% biobased and manufactured
by ARLANXEO. This is a big win for the bioeconomy, as football’s premier tournament
is (understandably) very particular about the performance of its balls, and
ARLANXEO’s rubber has been chosen specifically for its high performance in Russia’s
cold climate. Naturally, alongside the tournament, the balls are rolling
out across the world as official merchandise, meaning biobased footballs will
be kicked around in back gardens and parks, as well as Russia’s stadia.