Hong Kong-based product development firm Bioserie started with the ambitious goal of building a consumer brand around bioplastics. Its first effort, smartphone cases made entirely from plant-based polymers, hit the market in 2010.
Jump forward four years, and the business hasn't lived up to expectations. But the small company hopes a shift to toy manufacturing can change that. In May it launched what it says is the world's first line of infant toys made entirely from plant-based polylactic acid and additives.
“Our smartphone cover business did not do as well as we hoped for, but we have no complaints as it helped us develop the brand and high performance PLA manufacturing technology,” said CEO Kaya Kaplancali. “We believe toys are a much better category for our concept and we now feel ready to tackle it after four years of hard work.”
The company said it focused its R&D in the intervening years on improving the heat resistance and durability of its materials.
Last year, it was a finalist for bioplastics manufacturing awards given by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., and Germany's Nova Institute, based on its iPhone 5 cover made from PLA from Minnesota-based NatureWorks LLC.
“We spent over three years researching and experimenting with bioplastics,” he said. “We developed our own manufacturing technology for injection molding using a special blend of the best available bioplastic materials.”
The company subcontracts its manufacturing to plastics firms in Southern China.
Kaplancali, a former executive in the mobile phone accessories industry, thinks toys have more potential than phones because of growing concerns about how chemical additives impact children's health.