Plastic building blocks are tough on the environment.
This sounds like a really sweet deal – transforming sugar cane into a plastic-like substance that’s then used to make LEGO toys.
After all, less plastic means less plastic waste. Plastic likes to hang around forever. It takes up space in your home and garage and, when you finally toss it out, it clogs our landfills and pollutes the environment.
Reducing Traditional Plastic Use
So we applaud LEGO for seeking ways to cut back on traditional plastics. As of 2013, more than 560 billion LEGO parts had been created. That’s an average of 86 LEGO bricks for you, me and every single person on the planet!
So far, the Danish company that makes LEGO is using this sugarcane plastic mainly for its tiny trees and bushes in its playsets. Meanwhile, most of the millions of plastic toys LEGO spits out by the hour are molded from a fossil fuel-based plastic called ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). While it can be recycled, it isn’t being recycled in numbers that matter.
An effort to be more sustainable
LEGO is aware of shortcomings to its new process. The Danish company promises to use more sustainable sources of sugarcane as it moves forward.
Meanwhile, the toymaker is getting accolades for its move to a friendlier plastic.
Wired.com notes, “By the end of the year, under two percent of LEGO bricks will use the new polyethylene, a haul that includes not just bushes and trees but also the brushes in the car washes and street sweepers in the LEGO City line, and at least one set of dragon wings."
"While the percentage sounds small, keep in mind that Lego sells 75 billion elements every year. Little pieces add up quick.”
The web review continues: “Those bushes and trees really are a big deal. It took about two years for LEGO to settle on the sustainable polyethylene that goes into them … That time was spent sourcing, testing, and perhaps most importantly figuring out how to produce the bricks in quantity. All that work goes toward not improving on existing oil-based elements, but precisely replicating them.”
Meanwhile, according to the LEGO website newsroom, LEGO Group plans to be using 100% sustainable materials in both its bricks and packaging by 2030.
Sounds like Lego is building a better future – one block at a time.