Lego has announced it will release its first pieces made from sustainable plastic this year. The Danish toy company has said it plans to use sustainable materials for its products and packaging by 2030. They will use polyethylene plastic made from sugarcane for certain pieces, including “botanical elements” such as trees and leaves. The company says they will be “technically identical to those produced using conventional plastic,” according to the Verge.
These pieces will feature in Lego sets starting this year, making up between 1 and 2 percent of the company’s total plastic products. However, it is a first step towards fulfilling the company’s pledge to use sustainable materials by 2030. In 2015, the company invested $165 million in the creation of a Sustainable Materials Centre to research sustainable options for the production of Legos. They are also working towards zero waste from their production operations.
According to Lego’s vice-president of environmental sustainability, Tim Brooks:
“We are proud that the first Lego elements made from sustainably-sourced plastic are in production and will be in Lego boxes this year. This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all Lego bricks using sustainable materials.”
He noted that “plant-based polyethylene has the same properties as conventional polyethylene,” ensuring the same level of quality for parents and children.
The company’s other pieces are made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, made from crude oil. A 2015 report from the World Watch Institute indicated that plastic production accounts for roughly 4 percent of global petroleum consumption. An additional 4 percent helps to power plastic production.
Lego has said its sustainable materials will “have an ever-lighter footprint than the material it replaces,” in terms of not only fossil fuel consumption, but also human rights and carbon emissions.
Furthermore, the Lego has collaborated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions from their production and supply chain. It has invested in wind power, and uses paper pulp trays for its advent calendars, to cut down on plastic waste. It encourages customers to donate unwanted Legos.
“It is essential that companies in each industry find ways to responsibly source their product materials and help ensure a future where people, nature, and the economy thrive,” according to WWF senior program officer Alix Grabowski.