Materials

Lego to launch its first sustainable, plant-based plastic bricks this year

Lego to launch its first susta...
Lego says the new pieces made with sugarcane ethanol make up between one and two percent of the total plastic pieces it produces
Lego says the new pieces made with sugarcane ethanol make up between one and two percent of the total plastic pieces it produces
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Lego says the new pieces made with sugarcane ethanol make up between one and two percent of the total plastic pieces it produces
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Lego says the new pieces made with sugarcane ethanol make up between one and two percent of the total plastic pieces it produces

After ramping up its efforts to shift towards more sustainable materials in 2015, perennial purveyor of plastic blocks Lego is making good on that promise and is set to launch a new form of eco-friendly playthings this year.

The toymaker established its Sustainable Materials Centre two-and-a-half years ago, announcing a US$165 million investment aimed at uncovering more sustainable production methods for its beloved plastic bricks. It had previously declared its ambition to use sustainable materials in its core products and packaging by 2030.

The first fruits of this labor will be Lego pieces crafted from a plant-based polyethylene plastic, made with ethanol sourced from sugarcane. Fitting with theme, these will be plant-oriented pieces such as leaves, bushes and trees, made 100 percent from the plant-based plastic. According to Lego, these pieces make up between one and two percent of the total plastic pieces it produces, and have been tested to ensure they offer the same degree of durability.

"Lego products have always been about providing high quality play experiences giving every child the chance to shape their own world through inventive play," says Tim Brooks, Vice President, Environmental Responsibility at the LEGO Group. "Children and parents will not notice any difference in the quality or appearance of the new elements, because plant-based polyethylene has the same properties as conventional polyethylene."

The new botanical, plant-based elements will begin appearing in Lego boxes in 2018.

Source: Lego

2 comments
McDesign
The Lego bricks we're all familiar with are made from ABS - not PE. Perhaps some non-structural decorative bits are PE - it's really no good for structure.
eric36
But are they biodegradable? It's about more than carbon footprint. For example, current fossil-fuel derived plastics survive forever in the marine environment, breaking down into microplastics and subsequently bio-accumulating higher concentrations as they move up the marine trophic web (aka "food chain"). So, will the breakdown products of such highly-refined, bio-derivative plastics used in Legos actually break down into organic molecules that significantly reduce ecosystem impact?