Lego abandons plan to make bricks from recycled PET
Canadian PlasticsMaterials Recycling Sustainability
Lego discovered that making bricks out of recycled plastic bottles would have actually made emissions worse, a news report says.
Lego, the world’s largest toymaker, has abandoned its plans to switch to recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) for its bricks, according to a report in the Financial Times.
According to the news report, the Danish company made the decision after it spent years testing recycled rPET as a more climate-friendly alternative to the acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) it uses in about 80 per cent of Lego blocks. But using the rPET material would have led to higher carbon emissions over the product’s lifetime, Lego discovered.
Lego first announced it was testing a prototype brick made with rPET in 2021, and at one point had more than 150 people working on the project. But Lego’s chief executive, Niels Christiansen, told the Financial Times that the toymaker could not find a “magic material” to solve sustainability issues.
One of the key concerns with recycled PET was that it was softer than ABS and needed extra additives to give it similar durability and safety. Improving the qualities of the material reportedly required “large amounts of energy to process and dry it,” according to the Financial Times report.
Instead of using rPET, the Financial Times said, Lego has decided to try to improve the carbon footprint over time of ABS, which currently needs about 2kg of petroleum to make 1kg of plastic. The company also wants to encourage consumers to reuse their Legos, with a return program in the plans for the next two to three years.
In 2015, Lego set a target of eliminating all petroleum-based plastics in the 20 or so materials it uses in its play sets by 2030, and is currently on track to eliminate single-use plastic bags used in packaging its bricks by 2025 with many current sets featuring paper containers instead.