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LEGO Seeking Sustainable Alternative to Its Trademark Brick Material

Image credit: LEGO

LEGO told Plastics News this week that it is looking for a sustainable alternative to Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), the plastic resin used in its signature bricks, by 2030.

LEGO’s senior project manager Allan Rasmussen told PN that, not only must the selected material be able to meet the same characteristics as the original locking building blocks, the new bricks must also blend seamlessly with previous generations of bricks already in use.

“I need to find a material that is just as good as this one,” Rasmussen said. “I need to find a material that will be just as good in 50 years, because these are passed down from generation to generation.”


Tim Brooks
LEGO's Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability
speaker at
Sustainable Brands 2014 San Diego

Speaking at Innovation Takes Root 2014 in Orlando on Feb. 18, Rasmussen said the sustainability quest is in its early stages, but that bricks the company has already tested using an impact-modified polylactic acid are “very, very close.” A problem with a post-molding “creep,” however, means that a few weeks after molding, the bricks do not click and stick together as well as they should, Rasmussen said.

According to Plastics News, LEGO has been using ABS for its bricks since the 1960s, following a brief period using a cellulose acetate.

Rasmussen said ABS accounts for 70 percent of the 6,000 tons of plastic LEGO uses each year.

The company is seeking a replacement resin that makes economic sense and meet its environmental targets, comes from a non-food feedstock base, and meets the standards written within 3,082 pages worth of legislation regulating toys worldwide. All this in addition to matching the characteristic look, feel and enduring quality of generations of previous LEGOs. Piece of cake!

The search for a sustainable, new brick material is one way the Danish toy maker is making good on a series of sweeping recent commitments to improve its performance on a range of environmental priorities — in December, LEGO Group announced a partnership with WWF centered around collaboration with suppliers to reduce total carbon emissions and becoming net positive through the use of 100+ percent renewable energy by 2016.

 


Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor of Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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