Lego halts recycled material plan

3 mins read

Lego has witnessed a setback to its ambitious carbon reduction agenda, global toy giant Lego has withdrawn its plans to craft its iconic bricks from recycled plastic bottles. This development marks a significant blow to the company’s pledge, articulated in 2021, to produce bricks devoid of crude oil content within a two-year timeframe.

Lego, a brand synonymous with childhood imagination, announced on Monday that it had conducted extensive assessments and found that utilising the novel recycled material failed to yield the expected reduction in carbon emissions. However, the company remains unwavering in its commitment to fabricate bricks from sustainable materials, emphasising its resolute stance on environmental responsibility.

With a vast array of approximately 4,400 distinct bricks in its portfolio, Lego has traditionally relied on acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a virgin plastic derived from crude oil, for manufacturing. This decision to pivot away from recycled plastic was initially unveiled by the Financial Times.

Lego’s decision comes as a significant setback in the wake of its high-profile endeavours to bolster its ecological credentials—a pursuit increasingly demanded by conscious consumers. Much like other enterprises, Lego has embarked on a quest to explore alternative materials that align with the ethos of sustainability. A formidable challenge in this endeavour has been identifying materials robust enough to withstand the test of time, lasting for generations to come.

In 2021, Lego announced its breakthrough in crafting prototype bricks from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, incorporating a blend of additional chemicals. This innovation held the promise of potentially replacing oil-based bricks with a more eco-friendly alternative. Regrettably, Lego has now unveiled that, following an exhaustive two-year testing regimen, recycled PET failed to deliver the anticipated carbon emission reduction. The culprit, Lego divulged, was the necessity for additional production steps, resulting in heightened energy consumption. Consequently, Lego has opted not to advance with the adoption of bricks constructed from this material.

Niels Christiansen, the Chief Executive Officer of Lego, lamented the elusive quest for a “magic material” capable of resolving the company’s sustainability conundrum. In his words, “We tested hundreds and hundreds of materials. It’s just not been possible to find a material like that.”

Nevertheless, Lego remains resolute in its sustainability objectives, vowing to transition to Lego bricks manufactured from sustainable materials by 2032. To underpin this commitment, the company is funnelling substantial resources, amounting to more than $1.2 billion, into sustainability initiatives between 2021 and 2025. This strategic investment forms an integral component of Lego’s broader vision to curtail carbon emissions by an ambitious 37% by the year 2032.

As Lego continues its pursuit of greener pastures in the realm of sustainable materials, the quest for the ideal ecological alternative to oil-based bricks remains an ardent mission, reflecting the unwavering commitment of a corporate giant to its environmental stewardship responsibilities.