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LEGO invest in finding sustainable materials

A few days ago LEGO published a very interesting and informative press-release about investing significant resources to find new sustainable materials for manufacturing LEGO elements and for packaging materials. LEGO has always been very conscious about their impact on the environment, which is not an easy thing to do while working with plastics. We can only applaud LEGO for taking the initiative to keep the environment as clean as possible for future generations, at the same time some LEGO fans got a bit nervous reading this news; does this mean that future LEGO sets will simply fall apart and disintegrate? Below is the full press-release, and you can also find the original in the LEGO newsroom. 🙂

LEGO Sustaninable Materials Press-Release

The LEGO Group establishes LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre and expects to recruit more than 100 employees in a significant step up on the 2030 ambition of finding and implementing sustainable alternatives to current materials.

Today, the LEGO Group announces a significant investment of DKK 1 billion dedicated to research, development and implementation of new, sustainable, raw materials to manufacture LEGO® elements as well as packaging materials.

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the LEGO Group, says: “This is a major step for the LEGO Group on our way towards achieving our 2030 ambition on sustainable materials. We have already taken important steps to reduce our carbon footprint and leave a positive impact on the planet by reducing the packaging size, by introducing FSC certified packaging and through our investment in an offshore wind farm. Now we are accelerating our focus on materials.”

The investment will result in the establishment of the LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre. The centre will be based at the LEGO Group’s headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and include all current functions and employees working to find alternative materials. In addition, the LEGO Group expects to recruit more than 100 specialists within the materials field during the coming years to work on this challenging ambition.

The LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre organization will be established during 2015 and 2016, and it is expected that it will include satellite functions located in relevant locations around the globe. In addition, the centre will collaborate and develop partnerships with relevant external stakeholders and experts.

LEGO Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen comments on the announcement: “Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We believe that our main contribution to this is through the creative play experiences we provide to children. The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit. It is certainly in line with the mission of the LEGO Group and in line with the motto of my grandfather and founder of the LEGO Group, Ole Kirk Kristiansen: Only the best is good enough”.

Significant resources required – The decision to significantly boost the search for sustainable materials was taken at the recent General Assembly of the LEGO Group in May 2015.

In 2012, the LEGO Group first shared its ambition to find and implement sustainable alternatives to the current raw materials used to manufacture LEGO products by 2030. The ambition is part of the LEGO Group’s work to reduce its environmental footprint and leave a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit. As an example, in 2014 more than 60 billion LEGO elements were made – and finding alternatives to the materials used to make these bricks would significantly reduce the LEGO Group’s impact on the planet.

“The testing and research we have already done has given us greater visibility of the challenges we face to succeed on this agenda and we respond by adding significant resources in order to be ready to move into the next phase of finding and implementing the sustainable materials. I am truly excited by the full commitment of the Board of Directors and our owner family to significantly boost the work to ensure a lasting positive impact,” says Jørgen Vig Knudstorp.

When the LEGO Group is ready to introduce new materials it is vital that it does not compromise the quality or safety standards set by the LEGO Group and expected by parents. Consequently, the LEGO Group will continue to seek extensive research and robust data to ensure that all aspects of safety and quality are considered.

“This is paramount to us as it enables us to provide children with a unique play experience that inspires and develops them and enables them to build a better tomorrow. This is ultimately the reason for our continued efforts to always do better,” says Jørgen Vig Knudstorp.

Collaborating to find alternatives – The LEGO Group will not be able to solve the task of finding and implementing new materials alone. In recent years, the Group has collaborated with companies and experts on the task and these relationships will continue with existing as well as new partners with expertise in the field.

An example is the Climate Savers partnership between the LEGO Group and WWF signed in 2013, which has targets on developing a sustainable materials strategy. A new collaboration with WWF was agreed in spring 2015 and focuses on better assessing the overall sustainability and environmental impact of new bio-based materials for LEGO elements and packaging.

“There is no common definition of a sustainable material. Several factors influence the environmental sustainability of a material – the composition of the material, how it is sourced and what happens when the product reaches the end of its life. When we search for new materials all of these factors must be considered,” says Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, adding: “What we announce today is a long-term investment and a dedication to ensuring the continued research and development of new materials that will enable us to continue to deliver great, high quality creative play experiences in the future, while caring for the environment and future generations. It is a daunting and exciting challenge.”

Facts About the LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre:

  • The LEGO Group dedicates 1 billion DKK and sets up LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre to find and implement new sustainable alternatives to current raw materials.
  • More than 100 employees are expected to be recruited predominantly in the LEGO Group headquarters in Billund Denmark, to work on the task in the coming years.
  • The structure and organization of the LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre will be developed during 2015 and 2016.
  • The LEGO Group will continuously report on the progress and learnings gained towards the 2030 ambition.

What is a sustainable material? – There is no common definition of a sustainable material. Several aspects influence the sustainability of a material. It is to a high degree determined by its source, chemical composition, its use (in a product) and management (at end-of-life), and the impact it can have in both environmental and social areas. The LEGO Group believes a new sustainable material must have an ever-lighter footprint than the material it replaces across key environmental and social impact areas such as fossil resource use, human rights and climate change.

As you can see, LEGO is taking this area very seriously and willing to spend significant resources to make a difference. To balance sustainability with long-term durability is going to be a challenge. What do you think? What changes could LEGO make to their products, packaging and production to become more environmentally friendly? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below! 😉

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • TheBrickLot June 25, 2015, 12:25 PM

    I heard about this awhile ago even have a draf of the post, but I needed the press type thing.
    P.s. i reviewed my morrow flyer, and i am filming I rex break out right now. Also im finally seeing the movie tonight.

  • Clumsybumsy June 25, 2015, 12:59 PM

    I hope these new bricks will turn out well and they most likely will knowing LEGO. As is evident the oil supplies are dwindling which leads to rising LEGO prices. And if there is one thing I don’t like it’s expensive LEGO 😛

    • admin June 25, 2015, 1:35 PM

      Yes, price is going to be a big issue, and also finding a material that is as durable and stable as the current plastics used.

      • Håkan June 25, 2015, 2:01 PM

        I don’t know, despite oil prices, Lego has always been expensive. You can check out old catalogs and adjust the price for inflation.

        • admin June 25, 2015, 5:54 PM

          That’s true, but what I was referring to is that if oil supplies will start dwindling, it means prices will continue to go up, and there might even be regulations put in place what it can be used for. So it does make sense for LEGO to look at alternatives now when there is still time.

          • Håkan June 25, 2015, 6:31 PM

            Well, anything that causes less environmental impact is meaningful in my book…

  • diamond655 June 25, 2015, 1:40 PM

    This can go 3 ways:
    1. How LEGO hopes for it, they find a good material in good quantities that should keep as durable as normal LEGO plastic pieces.
    2. It could be in lower quantities per patch, causing LEGO prices to rise and amounts to dwindle until they are forced to swap back to plastic anyway.
    3. The only materials they find are less durable than plastic, causing people to complain about their LEGO pieces breaking incredibly often and eventually boycotting LEGO, forcing them to swap back to plastic.

    Or, they could just fail to find alternatives entirely.

    • Top Hat June 25, 2015, 2:15 PM

      LEGO will thoroughly test any potential materials before putting them to use in their products, I’m sure. I don’t think anything that might cause complaints will ever make it into stores.

  • Strider June 25, 2015, 1:47 PM

    I’m all for this as long as the pieces are still durable, I really wouldn’t like the pieces to change much if any.

  • BLProductions June 25, 2015, 9:09 PM

    It’s nice of LEGO to look for an alternative source of material, though inarguably it will take time to find a proper substitute. However, as long as the quality is the same, and the price doesn’t rise, I don’t mind. I would have more to say, except the article was too long for me today. I was more interested in this: http://brickset.com/article/15598/10248-ferrari-f40-press-release and the infuriating color of the new dishes. I cannot figure it out: are they Trans. Yellow? If so, where are they on the car? Or are they Trans. Orange, which is not new, appearing also on Cole’s Airjitzu Flyer. Also the 1×1 tiles are orange, and do not match the dish. So which is it? 😡 😕

    • Håkan June 26, 2015, 5:53 AM

      Apparently, “on the tail lights in the designer video”, according to a post…

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