The LEGO Group has unveiled a prototype LEGO® brick made from recycled plastic, the latest step in its journey to make LEGO products from sustainable materials.
Using PET plastic from discarded bottles, the new prototype is the first brick made from a recycled material to meet the company’s strict quality and safety requirements.
Over the past three years, materials scientists and engineers tested over 250 variations of PET materials and hundreds of other plastic formulations. The result is a prototype that meets several of their quality, safety and play requirements – including clutch power.
Vice President of Environmental Responsibility at the LEGO Group, Tim Brooks says with this prototype, LEGO is able to showcase the progress it is making.
“We are super excited about this breakthrough. The biggest challenge on our sustainability journey is rethinking and innovating new materials that are as durable, strong and high quality as our existing bricks – and fit with LEGO elements made over the past 60 years.”
It will be some time before bricks made from a recycled material appear in LEGO product boxes. The team will continue testing and developing the PET formulation and then assess whether to move to the pilot production phase. This next phase of testing is expected to take at least a year.
“We know kids care about the environment and want us to make our products more sustainable. Even though it will be a while before they will be able to play with bricks made from recycled plastic, we want to let kids know we’re working on it and bring them along on the journey with us,” says Brooks.
“Experimentation and failing is an important part of learning and innovation. Just as kids build, unbuild and rebuild with LEGO bricks at home, we’re doing the same in our lab.”
The recycled prototype brick is the latest development in making the LEGO Group’s products more sustainable. In 2020, the company announced it will begin removing single-use plastic from its boxes.
In 2018, it began producing elements from bio-polyethylene (bio-PE), made from sustainably sourced sugarcane. Many LEGO sets contain elements made from bio-PE which is perfect for making smaller, softer pieces such as trees, branches, leaves and accessories for mini figures.
Brooks says the team is committed to playing their part in building a sustainable future for generations of children.
“We want our products to have a positive impact on the planet, not just with the play they inspire, but also with the materials we use. We still have a long way to go on our journey but are pleased with the progress we’re making.”
The LEGO Group’s focus on sustainable material innovation is just one of several different initiatives the company has in place to make a positive impact. The LEGO Group will invest up to US $400 million over three years to 2022 to accelerate its sustainability ambitions.
For more information on how the LEGO Group wants to rebuild the world for the better, visit: LEGO.com/Sustainability.