Speaker Interview with Mia Katharina Podlech

60 seconds with the Materials Platform Manager of LEGO

Ahead of her presentation at Thermoplastic Elastomers World Summit 2019. Mia spoke to us about the journey towards sustainable LEGO tyres:

You are going to be talking about the journey towards sustainable LEGO tyres –can you give us some insight into what you will be exploring?

This case is a part of LEGOs Sustainable Materials Ambition: Our ambition is to use sustainable material in all our core products, this means our elements, packaging and building instructions by 2030. This is because we at LEGO sincerely believe that we can/and must contribute to a more sustainable future, which is also incorporated into the LEGO ® Brand Framework as “The Planet Promise” stating that “ We promise to leave a positive impact on our common Planet”. We are well aware that resource depletion is one of the biggest challenges of our times and we want to be part of building a future where people, nature and economy can all thrive. But for that to happen we will need to make changes to the way we consume resources.

In the case “Journey towards sustainable LEGO tyres” the challenges switching from a petrochemical sourced SEBS to a biobased sourced SEBS is explored. The main challenges are that the bio-based SEBS, besides the obvious requirements to physical and mechanical properties, also must possess similar processing properties to our current material, given that it preferably should be processed in the same moulds with the same process parameters as our current SEBS material, without compromising element quality, such as tolerances, product safety and EHS parameters.

What are the biggest challenges facing the elastomers industry right now and how to do you think this conference can address them?

Similar to the rest of the polymer industry I think the biggest challenge lies within the huge task of transferring to a sustainable technology both in respect to the polymer itself, its feedstock and operations, but most certainly also with the fact that, even though circular economy has been discussed under other headlines for the last 2-3 decades (like recycling and reducing our environmental footprint) not much has been effective.

This conference can address this problem by high lighting it and once again making clear that people from fields of legislation, various technologies and businesses have to collaborate in order to make progress.

What do you see as the most significant changes coming up in terms of your material choices in the next 12-24 months?

Our focus is on the transition from fossil-based to bio-based materials within LEGO’s TPE platform