After two years of manufacturing prototypes and testing over 250 variations of materials, LEGO has decided to halt production on their quest to find/ develop sustainable materials for their products. The household-name has been a part of many childhoods since 1932, with the creation of stackable, brightly colored building blocks. These blocks are usually formulated from a variety of plastic materials, the most popular being: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, ABS; High Impact Polystyrene, HIPS; and Polyamide, PA, as the main toy base structures and additions. These plastics are an abnormally hard and scratch resistant form, and are suitable for more rough interactions. But, since the demand for more sustainable alternatives has been apparent across all manufacturing industries, LEGO jumped on the train to develop a fully sustainable material.
Unfortunately, Denmark’s LEGO headquarters recently stated that they are still committed to finding sustainable material sources, but will halt production of developing a sustainable version of their most popular, colorful brick. The bricks were projected to be created from polyethylene terephthalate, PET materials, but after the few years of testing, they found that these materials do not reduce carbon emissions. Back in 2021, they announced that the PET prototypes passed their quality, safety, and play requirements, the first recycled alternative of its kind at the company. The PET “plastic” was made from recycled plastic bottles that were sourced from suppliers in the U.S. that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority. The numbers came out to be: one, 1 Liter plastic bottle to produce 10 2 x 4 Lego bricks.
As part of its effort to transition over to sustainable materials and reduce carbon emissions by 37% by 2032, LEGO has invested more than $1.2 billion into sustainability initiatives. They have also tested a variety of other sustainable alternatives, such as other recycled plastics and e-methanol. E-methanol is a “green” version of methanol that is created by using renewable energy to split water molecules, developing a material composed of carbon dioxide and hydrogen waste. Despite the failed prototype, the company has stated that they will continue to use bio-polypropylene, a sustainable plastic used in various consumer industries, for toy accessory parts.
"We believe that in the long-term this will encourage increased production of more sustainable raw materials, such as recycled oils, and help support our transition to sustainable materials," stated LEGO.