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LEGO Announces Prototype Brick Made From Recycled Plastic

by Rudy Sanchez on 06/28/2021 | 2 Minute Read

Sometimes we use plastic as a matter of convenience, but it comes with a severe ecological cost. Some instances of plastic use can easily be avoided, such as single-use eating utensils. But when it comes to LEGO building blocks, no other material besides ABS plastic is suitably practical that meets the Danish toymakers’ exacting standards. For starters, they have to be compatible with pieces built since 1958 and have a firm lock with other parts that are easily dislodged from one another and built consistently with low tolerances.

The environmental impact of petroleum-derived plastic is not lost on LEGO, and the manufacturer has taken initiatives to reduce its use of plastic, like transitioning to paper envelopes in its packaging. LEGO has also been experimenting with recycled plastic to reduce pollution and decrease the need for virgin plastic, announcing a breakthrough in the use of recycled PET that meets US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) standards for quality. According to LEGO, on average, a 1-liter plastic bottle provides enough material to make ten 2X4 plastic bricks.

Editorial photograph

“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. With this prototype, we’re able to showcase the progress we’re making,” Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at the LEGO Group, said in a press release.

In addition to reducing plastic used in packaging, LEGO has also started using bio-polyethylene (bio-PE), derived from sustainably sourced sugarcane to make softer pieces such as minifigure accessories, trees, branches, and leaves.

The new bricks still require further testing before being used in kits, including a pilot production phase. The advancement still offers the promise of more sustainable LEGO toy sets shortly.