Lego Takes the Sustainable Route and You Should Too
The Lego name has been synonymous with creativity and fun for nearly 90 years. Lego blocks are iconic — whether they’re gigantic Legoland sculptures or the butt of barefoot jokes. Legos have remained basically the same since their creation, but now, they’re innovating in a brand-new way. The familiar blocks will still look, feel, and build the same, but from now on, they’ll be manufactured from completely recycled material.
Lego’s move to sustainable production has been coming for years. Refusing to compromise on the integrity of its bestselling bricks, Lego wanted to perfect its sustainable manufacturing approach before making it standard. The sustainable future of Lego bricks has finally arrived.
From water bottles to building blocks
After three years spent testing plastic formulas, Lego recently released the prototype for a brick made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles. Lego can produce around 10 2×4 bricks from a one-liter PET bottle. The end-product is completely recyclable and though colorless, otherwise indistinguishable from the classic bricks.
These new bricks are Lego’s effort to create a more positive impact on the planet. For decades, the company used ABS, an unrecyclable plastic, to manufacture its toys. For now, Lego continues to use ABS in its products, but the new, recyclable prototype is a big step in the right direction.
Toward a sustainable future
Lego has made significant strides toward full sustainability in the last few years. In 2020, the company announced plans to eliminate all single-use plastics from its packaging by 2025. The research and development (R&D) of its sustainable bricks was expensive in terms of time and money, but the company was determined that its new product would match the quality of its legacy bricks.
An official release will have to wait for more research and several rounds of testing. For one thing, Lego hasn’t yet found a sustainable solution for adding color to the new bricks. But Lego will invest over $400 million in creative innovation to honor their commitment to sustainability and an authentic replication of its iconic bricks. Some of that money will go to a complete elimination of single-use plastics from Lego’s value stream.
Lego leads the way
Lego is an example for all manufacturers. The company is showing the industry how focus on a core product can move the world in a more sustainable direction. Lego isn’t afraid to continue innovating and has proven itself willing to seek sustainability right down to its core. Most manufacturers resist sustainability efforts out of fear of changing what works. Lego proves we can strive to make things better without fixing what isn’t broken.
As Lego works toward a greener future, other companies are challenged to follow suit. Now that one manufacturing giant is throwing its considerable weight behind the Triple Bottom Line — an equal focus on people, profits, and the planet — the concept is gaining steam. More successful use-cases can only mean more traction.
Investing in a sustainable future means more money for R&D today. The initial investment may seem costly now, but a better, brighter future is worth it.