The new prototype, made from PET plastic from discarded bottles, is the first brick made from a recycled material to meet the company’s strict quality and safety requirements.
A team of more than 150 people are working to find sustainable solutions for LEGO products.
Over the past three years, material scientists and engineers tested over 250 variations of PET materials and hundreds of other plastic formulations.
What is a prototype LEGO brick you may ask? It’s a brick that is still being worked on, LEGO is still testing it to make sure it feels, sounds and clicks like other bricks do, and so far, it’s doing well!
Vice president of Environmental Responsibility, Tim Brooks says, “We are super excited about this breakthrough. The biggest challenge on our sustainability journey is rethinking and innovating new materials that are as durable, strong and high quality as our existing bricks.”
With this prototype, The LEGO Group can showcase the progress they are making within their company.
Making their bricks from recycled materials helps lower their impact on the environment.
Although the materials of the brick may be different LEGOs new sustainable bricks will still be the exact same to their regular LEGO bricks.
Any sustainable bricks they make now and the future must fit with the LEGO play system.
Meaning, the new bricks must work with any LEGO element made over the past 60 years.
Uncompromised quality and safety
It will be sometime before bricks made from recycled material appear in LEGO product boxes.
The team will continue testing and developing the PET formulation and then assess whether to move to the pilot production phase.
The next phase of testing is expected to take at least a year.
“We know kids care about the environment and want us to make our products more sustainable. 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 our journey,” Brooks says.
On average, a one-litre plastic PET bottle provides enough raw material for ten 2 x 4 LEGO bricks.
Journey towards more sustainable products
The recycled prototype brick is the latest development in making the LEGO Group’s products more sustainable.
In 2020, the company announced it will be removing single-use plastic from its boxes.
The company began producing elements from bio-polyethylene (bio-PE), made from sustainably sourced sugarcane in 2018.
Many LEGO sets contain elements made from bio-PE which is perfect for making smaller, softer pieces such as trees, branches, leaves and accessories for minifigures.
However, bio-PE is not currently suitable for making harder, stronger elements such as their iconic LEGO bricks.
The LEGO Group’s focus on sustainable material innovation is just one of several different initiatives the company has in place.
The company will invest up to US $400 million over three years to 2022 to accelerate its sustainability ambitions.