Lego reveals first ever bricks made from recycled plastic bottles
Over the past few years, Lego has been taking some steps toward more sustainable practices for its plastic toys, outlining plans for more eco-friendly playthings. The company has just revealed the first prototype of its classic brick element crafted from recycled plastic sourced from discarded bottles that meets the company's quality and safety requirements.
Lego began ramping up its sustainability efforts in 2015, which included a shift away from single-use plastic packaging and investments in alternative, more eco-friendly materials for its plastic toys. This came to include plans for toy trees and bushes made from plant-based plastics in 2018, material that featured for the first time in a motorized wind turbine set later that same year.
These items were produced with a bio-plastic made from sustainably sourced sugarcane, but for its load-bearing brick elements, the company has had to conjure up something harder and stronger. This led them to the PET plastics in discarded bottles, with the company's researchers testing more than 250 variations of the material and coming up with what they call a bespoke compounding technology to turn it into bricks.
“We are super excited about this breakthrough," says Vice President of Environmental Responsibility at the Lego Group, Tim Brooks. "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.”
The company says that through this process it can convert the raw materials from a single one-liter (0.26-gal) PET bottle into ten 2x4 Lego bricks. It will, however, be some time before these bricks make their way into the hands of kids, with the company still to put them through a further testing phase before beginning production, which is expected to take at least a year.
“We know kids care about the environment and want us to make our products more sustainable," says Brooks. "Even though it will be a while before they will be able to play with bricks made from recycled plastic, we want to let kids know we’re working on it and bring them along on the journey with us. Experimentation and failing is an important part of learning and innovation. Just as kids build, unbuild and rebuild with Lego bricks at home, we’re doing the same in our lab.”