From plastic to planet-friendly: LEGO's journey to sustainability

The campaign towards environmental sustainability is no longer a preserve of  world governments. Increasingly, companies and are under pressure to employ sustainable business practices. 

So, what crosses your mind when you hear the word LEGO? Plastics, right? Well, LEGO is here to change our traditional perception of toys by moving from oil-based products like plastics to plant-based materials like sugar cane polyethylene. 

But how is that even feasible? Well, buckle up because we're about to take you through the entire journey of how this renowned toy maker is moving away from plastic completely. So let's get down to business!

How did LEGO start making plastic toys?

The LEGO story dates back to 1932 in a small Danish village of Billund, with Ole Kirk Christiansen as its ambitious creator. After experiencing many challenges, like fire outbreaks, market crashes, and the loss of family members, Christiansen experienced a massive breakthrough in 1949 when LEGO successfully produced the first-ever plastic product called the "automatic binding brick."

The main idea of LEGO's first plastic brick was inspired by its founder seeing a plastic injection molding machine at a trade fair. Impressed by what he saw, Christiansen would then order a molding machine in the mid-1940s from the UK, thus marking the enduring journey of the LEGO plastic era. 

What motivates the LEGO company to go green?

As the world moves away from oil-based products at a fast pace, the LEGO Group is naturally evolving given its product is primarily made from oil. 

"We want to play our part in building a sustainable future and making a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit," reads a statement on LEGO's official website. The company's desire to go green is unquestionable, with a clear road map on how they plan their transition. For instance, LEGO aims to make its packaging 100% sustainable by 2025 using recyclable or renewable materials, and its core products by 2030.

What material does LEGO use for its products?

Presently, LEGO uses a petroleum-based substance called acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) to produce roughly 98% of its toy products. That means only 2% (or 80 out of its 3,600 construction pieces) come from a bio-sourced material. 

It may seem like an insignificant proportion, but as Tim Brooks, the company's vice president of environmental responsibility, notes, "this is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all LEGO bricks using sustainable materials." And we couldn't agree more!

LEGO's impending transition into plant-based products

As LEGO plans to transition fully into plant-based materials and products, the question remains; will the replacement be as high quality as the ABS plastic presently being used? The short answer is YES, if not better! 

The company's head of environmental responsibility states that children and parents will barely notice any difference since plant-based polyethylene has similar properties as its plastic counterpart. Furthermore, the company adds that it'll source the sugar cane sustainably and test all the elements to ensure they meet the "high standards for quality and safety."

But that's not all; LEGO is committed to ensuring that everyone gets involved in their ambitious journey towards environmental sustainability. Thus, it has started a campaign themed "plants from plants," enabling enthusiasts to build, upload, and share their customised superheroes using LEGO sustainable product collection. If you're interested in joining the mission, be sure to check out this page for more details.

    Adopting sustainable packaging by 2025

      As mentioned, LEGO plans to make its packaging sustainable by 2025. But what's the back story? Well, the idea is simple; you can't purport to produce environmentally sustainable products, only to package them on single-use disposable plastics. It doesn't make sense, does it?

      For that reason, the company decided to take a holistic approach towards going green—hence the introduction of recyclable paper packaging in 2022. Though not full-fledged (at least not yet), the company has rolled out a four-year plan (beginning 2021), within which it will phase in the new sustainable bags.

      Today, however, roughly 75% of cardboard used to make LEGO boxes comes from recycled materials. What's more, all the cardboard and paper used in LEGO products and packaging are 100% sustainably sourced, recyclable, and endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Last but not least, LEGO will design its sustainable packaging in a way that helps children understand and appreciate the essence of recycling and have the best play experience.

      Supporting other green causes

      Another way The LEGO Group is championing a move to sustainable resources is its move towards environmentally-conscious themes in its playsets. As well as new sets arriving in 2022, here are two sets that include electric vehicles (EVs.)

      Friends 41443 Olivia's Electric Car

      Buckle up for a green, clean road trip! Olivia and Mia are taking a drive in their electric car. It’s running low on power, so they stop at a charging station. The station has a wind turbine and solar panel to generate the electricity.

      City 60291 Family House

      Welcome to the modern family house, an eco-friendly home with solar panels and an Octan-E charging station for the cool electric car.


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