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Kinda carbon-negative bio plastic

Danny Ruspandini - Impact Labs Australia
Danny R.

Today I saw kids toys made from what looked like plastic, but on the packaging were some very bold claims about sustainability and renewable sources - I couldn't help myself, so I looked it up.

The toymaker are called Viking Toys from Sweden, and the claims were that the plastic used is a sugar-cane based alternative to traditional crude-oil-based-plastic. So I looked that up.

The regular crude-oil plastic is called LDPE and the alternative is bio-LDPE. As it turns out, this bio alternative not only replicates regular plastic in just about every single beneficial way (durability etc), but also just by growing it, it sequesters carbon from the air - meaning that at least for a portion of its life, bio-LDPE is actually carbon-negative.

How it differs from regular LDPE is that it's 100% recyclable in the PE stream (your regular yellow-lid recycle bin at home). Regular LDPE isn't, so it needs to be handled differently which is why we have things like the RedCycle system for soft plastics.

Regular LDPE is also sometimes bonded with other materials - for example, the reason disposable coffee cups are such a problem is the paper cup is often lined with an LDPE plastic film, which makes the whole cup neither recyclable nor biodegradable.

So the toymaker's big claims were pretty fair. It's not entirely circular (like that link above will claim) but it's many steps in a cleaner direction.

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