Lego Builds Towards Sustainability

Stockholm (NordSIP) – Lego has begun production of ‘sustainable’ building bricks, the Danish toy giant revealed in a press release last week. The first products are expected to hit the market this year.

The announcement comes as the Lego Group discloses a financially disappointing 2017.

The new sustainable bricks, however, constitute only a small part of Lego’s output so far, and is concentrated on its ‘softer’ elements, such as, aptly, the trees and bushes used to populate cityscapes and other Lego building set structures. The classic Lego range of building blocs is not yet sustainable.

“We started on our journey towards finding sustainable alternatives some years ago, and this is the first result of that work. About 1-2 per cent of the total amount of bricks Lego produces today are sustainable,” Lego Group Press Chief Roar Rude Trangbæk told Danmarks Radio.

According to Trangbæk, it is not possible to simply produce all Lego bricks with sustainable materials, as many different types of plastic are used for Lego bricks, which cannot simply be replaced by a single sustainable material.

“We are proud that the first Lego bricks made from sustainably produced plastic are in production and will be in Lego building sets this year. This is a good first step towards our ambitious objective of producing all Lego bricks from sustainable materials in the future,” said Tim Brooks, Deputy Director and Environmental Officer at the Lego Group.

Lego has invested DKK 1 billion in research to develop sustainable building blocks since 2015 and employs approximately 100 people for that purpose alone. The sustainable plastic used for the bricks is made from polyethylene based on sugar cane material, rather than the oils normally used in the materials. Elements are tested to ensure the plant-based plastics meets quality and safety standards.

“It’s important to emphasise that these are still plastic bricks, just that that plastic itself is made from plant extracts. The most important thing is to ensure the quality, safety and durability of the bricks,” Trangbæk said. Consumers will not be able to tell the difference between the new bricks and the old ones tactilely.

Lego’s ambition is to produce the totality of its products sustainably by 2030. “We think this is very ambitious. Many different types of plastic are used to make Lego bricks, and many of the materials we are introducing are not yet available on the market,” Trangbæk said.

The Lego Group’s returns suffered a setback in 2017, with profits falling to DKK 7.8 billion from 9.4 billion in 2016. “2017 was a challenging year and we are not satisfied with the financial results,” said Lego Group CEO Niels B. Christiansen as the news was announced Tuesday (March 6th). “However, we had a good end of year. By 2018, we will focus on stabilising the business and investing in the creation of sustainable, long-term growth,” he added. 2017 was Christiansen’s first year as CEO.

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