LEGO has unveiled a new prototype LEGO brick made from recycled plastic, marking the latest progression of the toy company’s journey towards sustainability.

A team of more than 150 people is working on solutions to help make the company more environmentally responsible. Vice president of environmental responsibility at LEGO Tim Brooks said the company is “super excited” about this new development.

“The biggest challenge on our sustainability journey is rethinking and innovating new materials that are durable, strong and high quality as our exiting bricks and fit with LEGO elements made over the past 60 years,” he said. “With this prototype we’re able to showcase the progress we’re making.”

The process of developing the new recycled plastic prototype saw material scientists and engineers test more than 250 types of PET materials along with hundreds of other plastic formulations.

The brick had to meet a number of criteria in the areas of quality, safety and play requirements such as clutch power.

However, it will still be some time until the recycled bricks hit toy store shelves. The team will continue testing and developing the PET formulation for at least a year before deciding whether to start the pilot production phase.

“We know kids care about the environment and want us to make our products more sustainable,” Brooks said. “Even though it will be a while before they will be able to play with bricks made from recycled plastic, we want to let kids know we’re working on it and bring them along on the journey with us.”

On average, a one-litre PET plastic bottle provides enough raw material for 10 2-4 LEGO bricks. But the material needs to be strengthened in order to make it strong enough to be made into LEGO bricks. To do this, requires a compounding process which combines the recycled PET with strengthening ingredients.

This news follows LEGO’s 2020 announcement that it would remove single-use plastic from its boxes. It also began producing elements such as trees, leaves and minifigures from bio-polyethylene made from sustainably-sourced sugarcane in 2018.

Over the three years to 2022, LEGO has been investing US$400 million to accelerate its sustainability quest.

 

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