LEGO has in recent years promised to invest in sustainability and had previously announced in 2015 that they will invest heavily in this initiative. Yesterday, LEGO announced the first change based on that initiative; first sustainable LEGO Bricks based on sugarcane. It seems that they will continuously grow sugarcane that will be used to produce ethanol and subsequently used to create polyethylene which is a plastic used by LEGO. Ethanol can be made artificially in a lab or naturally via fermentation of sugars by yeasts and LEGO seems to have invested to make ethanol creation a sustainable effort. Here is the press release in full.
LEGO® botanical elements such as leaves, bushes and trees will be made plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane in the future and will appear in LEGO boxes already in 2018.
Production has started on a range of sustainable LEGO® elements made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane. The new sustainable LEGO ‘botanical’ elements will come in varieties including leaves, bushes and trees.
“At the LEGO Group we want to make a positive impact on the world around us, and are working hard to make great play products for children using sustainable materials. We are proud that the first LEGO elements made from sustainably sourced plastic are in production and will be in LEGO boxes this year. This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all LEGO bricks using sustainable materials,” said Tim Brooks, Vice President, Environmental Responsibility at the LEGO Group.
The move is part of the LEGO Group’s commitment to use sustainable materials in core products and packaging by 2030.
Uncompromised quality and safety
The new sustainable LEGO elements are made from polyethylene, which is a soft, durable and flexible plastic, and while they are based on sugar-cane material, they are technically identical to those produced using conventional plastic. The elements have been tested to ensure the plant-based plastic meets the high standards for quality and safety that the LEGO Group has, and consumers expect from LEGO products.
“LEGO products have always been about providing high quality play experiences giving every child the chance to shape their own world through inventive play. 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,” said Tim Brooks.
The unique LEGO brick design, and the LEGO Group’s uncompromised focus on quality and safety during the past 60 years ensures that two LEGO bricks produced decades apart can still fit together. As the LEGO Group is working towards using sustainable materials in its core products and packaging, it will remain strongly rooted and driven by the uncompromised focus on high product quality and safety.
Building children’s future one brick at a time
The LEGO Group has partnered with WWF to support and build demand for sustainably sourced plastic, and has joined the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA), an initiative of WWF, to secure fully sustainable sourcing of raw material for the bioplastics industry. The plant based plastic used to make the botanical LEGO elements is certified by the Bonsucro Chain of Custody standard for responsibly sourced sugarcane. Read more here.
“It is essential that companies in each industry find ways to responsibly source their product materials and help ensure a future where people, nature, and the economy thrive,” said Alix Grabowski, a senior program officer at WWF. “The LEGO Group’s decision to pursue sustainably sourced bio-based plastics represents an incredible opportunity to reduce dependence on finite resources, and their work with the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance will allow them to connect with other companies to continue to think creatively about sustainability.”
About LEGO elements made from plants
Polyethylene elements are 1-2% of the total amount of plastic elements produced by the LEGO Group; The sustainable product range covers LEGO® botanical elements such as leaves, bushes and trees made entirely from plant-based plastic.
Plant-based polyethylene used in LEGO elements is made from ethanol produced from sugarcane.
The sugarcane used is sourced sustainably in accordance with guidance from the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) and is certified by the Bonsucro Chain of Custody standard for responsibly sourced sugarcane.
All suppliers must comply with the LEGO Group’s Code of Conduct, which specifies strict requirements for ethical, environmental and health & safety standards based on leading global guidelines.
The LEGO Group works closely with its suppliers to ensure life-cycle assessments are conducted, which map the environmental impacts from the production of the bio-based material.
What is a sustainable material?
There is no common definition of a sustainable material. Several aspects influence the sustainability of a material. It is to a high degree determined by its source, chemical composition, its use (in a product) and management (at end-of-life), and the impact it can have in both environmental and social areas.
The LEGO Group believes a new sustainable material must have an ever-lighter footprint than the material it replaces across key environmental and social impact areas such as fossil resource use, human rights and climate change.
About sustainability at the LEGO Group
The LEGO Group partners with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), as part of efforts to reduce CO2 emissions in manufacturing and supply chain operations, and promote global action on climate change.
Through investments in wind power, the energy used to make LEGO bricks is balanced by the production of renewable energy.
The LEGO Group targeted 2030 to reach zero waste in operations, and introduced sustainable paper pulp trays for the LEGO advent calendar, reducing plastic waste from going to landfill.