Sustainable Legos to Replace their Plastic Cousins by 2030

LEGO Plastic BlocksNews has it that LEGO is planning to find a sustainable alternative to make its iconic plastic blocks with, for which it is going to spend DKK1 billion.

Legos, those fine, multi-colored plastic blocks – look simple, but together, they can be built up into many complex structures. For nearly four generations, they have served our creative childhoods. Now, the world’s largest toymaker is planning to take a leap into the next level – a sustainable one – a non-plastic one.

A couple of years back, a Japanese company Colors Tokyo made Lego-style blocks out of sawdust, cedar bark shavings, coffee beans, and green tea leaves. Another Japanese design studio, Mokurukku, created them out of durable woods like maple and birch.

Now, LEGO itself is planning to spend DKK 1 billion (approx $150 million) through their new LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre in Denmark, whose structure and organisation will be developed during 2015 and 2016, and employ a team of 100 specialists to research, develop and implement new sustainable alternatives for their current building materials. The toymaker has announced that they are aiming to replace the plastic in their products with a sustainable material by 2030.

mokurokku-wooden-legos
Mokurokku’s wooden Legos

Now, this decision has joined the series of green moves, LEGO has been taking in the recent years, like reducing packaging, investing in offshore wind farms, and ending their partnership with Shell, last year, due to the viral Greenpeace campaign video that went against Shell’s Arctic oil exploration.

Since 1963, Legos have been made out of a strong plastic called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and according to NBC News, the company’s annual usage of plastic in the manufacture of its products is more than 6000 tons. In 2014 alone, the company produced more than 60 billion Lego elements. 

Here are a few snippets of interesting statistics, we obtained, for you, from a 2008 Gizmodo article, posted on the 50th anniversary of the Lego Brick – also to cheer LEGO on taking this big green decision. See for yourself how big a decision it is from the below facts.

There are about 62 LEGO bricks for every one of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants.
• Children around the world spend 5 billion hours a year playing with LEGO bricks.
• More than 400 million people around the world have played with LEGO bricks.
• LEGO bricks are available in 53 different colors.
• 2.16 million LEGO elements are molded every hour, or 36,000 per minute.
• More than 400 billion LEGO bricks have been produced since 1949.
• 7 LEGO sets are sold by retailers every second around the world.
• 40 billion LEGO bricks stacked on top of one another would connect the earth with the moon.
• The LEGO bricks sold in one year would circle the world 5 times. read more such facts..

Replacing such big numbers with the ones of Green alternatives is sure a big thing. Let’s hope it’s not a fluke. As Green Optimistic people, let’s also hope the sustainable Legos come from sustainable practices, unlike deforestation.

While only 10 percent of the company’s carbon emissions come from its factories, majority portion comes from the extraction and refinement of raw materials. So, producing sustainable Legos can have a huge impact on the company’s carbon footprint.

Lego DOg from Colors TokyoThough the phrase ‘Sustainable alternative’ has not been defined in LEGO’s official announcement, it said “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.”

“Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We believe that our main contribution to this is through the creative play experiences we provide to children. The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit,” notes Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, LEGO Group owner, on the announcement. “It is certainly in line with the mission of the LEGO Group and in line with the motto of my grandfather and founder of the LEGO Group, Ole Kirk Kristiansen: Only the best is good enough.”

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