Toy giant Mattel is launching new building block sets made from renewably-sourced plastics as part of a new sustainability push.

The company said it is producing new products for its popular pre-school Mega Bloks line, containing sustainable bio-based plastics.

It said three pre-school building sets - Polar Friends, Safari Friends and Woodland Friends - will be derived from bio-based resins.

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Mattel said Sainsbury's and Argos will be the first retailers in Europe to stock the toys, which are being launched in Argos's January 2020 catalogue.

The California-based toy manufacturer said Amazon Europe is also launching a pre-sale of the product in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

The building sets, which have recyclable packaging, are the second product to be launched as part of Mattel's plan to use 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastics materials for its products and packaging by 2030.

Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer, said: "Environmental sustainability is a corporate priority and we are proud to announce Mega's first product made from bio-based materials.

"Our Mega team is deeply committed to bringing the best products to their loyal consumers and they are driving innovation to do this in the most sustainable way."

Andrew Hartley, buying manager for toys at Sainsbury's Argos, said: "We are delighted to be the first UK retailer to offer this innovative product.

"We know sustainability is an increasingly important consideration for our customers so being able to exclusively launch the new Mega range in the UK is a really exciting step as we continue to respond to consumer demand."

Former chancellor Philip Hammond has joined UK fintech firm OakNorth to aid its growth plans.

Mr Hammond will become a member of the SoftBank-backed firm's advisory board as it looks to accelerate its overseas expansion.

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The ex-Treasury boss will join OakNorth's board alongside Conservative grandee Francis Maude and former senior regulators Lord Adair Turner and Martin Stewart.

OakNorth is the second company Mr Hammond has joined since quitting politics last month, having joined the board of Irish glass and metal container business Ardagh Group.

His appointment comes almost a year after OakNorth was valued at $2.8 billion (£2.1 billion) in a bumper fundraiser led by SoftBank's vision fund.

The challenger bank lends to medium sized businesses in the UK and also licenses its credit technology to overseas lenders.

Mr Hammond said: "OakNorth is the flagship of the UK's vital and fast-growing fintech sector - attracting record levels of investment and generating sustainable profits while bringing much-needed change to an undeserved area of the banking market.

"The development by OakNorth of a platform to deliver cost-effective lending to them is a major boost to the potential of not only the British economy, but economies worldwide.

"I look forward to being part of both OakNorth's growth story in the UK and its expansion into international markets, licensing its platform to partners across the globe."

Mr Hammond had been MP for Runnymede and Weybridge in Surrey for 22 years, having previously run a housebuilding business.

OakNorth co-founder Rishi Khosla, said: "He brings both an international perspective, having worked with finance ministers across the globe, as well as a deep understanding of the British economy.

"He will spend time with global clients and policymakers, as well as advising us on the continued expansion of our UK loan book."

Six companies are to share £170,000 of government funding to help tackle the global climate emergency using artificial intelligence (AI).

The applicants have been chosen to develop AI-enabled technology through the Can Do Innovation Challenge Fund, managed by Scottish Enterprise.

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Four Glasgow-based firms (Arceptive, Industrial Systems and Control, Integrated Environmental Solutions, and Trade in Space) will split the Scottish Government cash with two Edinburgh businesses (Space Intelligence and Topolytics).

Their projects include using AI to develop more efficient food supply chains, an AI-based thermal imaging service to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from homes and a waste and resources map to identify recycling opportunities for waste and by-products.

Digital economy minister Kate Forbes said: "Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to acknowledge that we are facing a global climate emergency and we will do everything we can to make a difference.

"Our commitment to meeting ambitious emissions targets makes it vital that we develop new technologies - including harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence.

"Scotland has a proud tradition as a leader in technical innovation and is home to a huge array of companies pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

"I am excited to see what they produce with the support of this fund."

The concepts will be developed over a 10-week period, with up to three of them progressing to the next phase, where they will produce minimum viable products.

Linda Hanna, MD for Scottish economic development at Scottish Enterprise, added: "This challenge fund calls on our most innovative companies to apply leading-edge technology in tackling one of the biggest challenges facing mankind.

"It's inspiring to see ingenuity and passion from Scotland's business base, alongside the talent that makes us such a highly-competitive business location.

"We look forward to working with these companies as they examine the potential of AI to make a lasting, positive change for our environment, economy and people."