LEGO just took a big step in its efforts to make its products more sustainable.
The LEGO Group unveiled a new LEGO brick made entirely out of recycled plastic. This new prototype is the first brick made out of PET plastic from discarded bottles and the first to meet the company’s strict quality and safety standards.
The company is currently employing a team of 150 people to find sustainable solutions for LEGO products and is committed to investing $400 million over three years to accelerate its sustainability goals.
Although LEGO started producing elements of bio-polyethylene (bio-PE) — made from sustainably sourced sugarcane — in 2018, bio-PE can only be used for soft pieces like trees and accessories for minifigures. The team’s recycled plastic process uses a bespoke compounding technology to combine the recycled PET with strengthening additives and finds a solution for creating harder, stronger elements to create sustainable LEGO bricks.
The current PET formulation is sourced from suppliers in the U.S. that use Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved processes to guarantee quality. The company reports that on average, a one-liter plastic PET bottle provides enough material for ten two by four LEGO bricks.
Although this is a huge development, it will take some time before recycled LEGOs can be found in boxes across the world. The product still requires further tests to ensure its PET formulation. This next phase is expected to take a year before the company can launch a pilot production.