LEGO – Building Bricks Towards Sustainability
Lego is building bricks towards sustainability with their initiative to change all internal packaging within their sets from plastic to paper.
Following Lego’s 2021 financial results, their Ambassador Network has issued a brief update on LEGO’s transition away from single-use plastic in its packaging. In their statement, it was revealed that from March 2022, people should expect to see paper packaging in new products. They aim to have all packaging made from renewable or recycled materials, made as efficiently as possible, and fully recyclable by 2025.
In their most recent pledge, LEGO has stated that they are making further investments in creating more sustainable products. This will achieve zero waste targets and carbon-neutral operations, a circular business, and inspire children to learn about sustainability through play.
Keeping It Circular
Roughly 90% of LEGO’s total CO2 footprint comes from its supply chain. They are collaborating closely with their suppliers to ensure there are different ways to reduce their collective carbon footprint in place. They do this through an Engage-to-Reduce program; set up in 2014.
Lego has ensured that its products are part of the circular economy. It is a product made of quality materials, that are durable, safe, and maintain levels of consistency to be passed down through the generations. For LEGO to remain circular, they are aiming to share more opportunities to learn about the circular economy. They hosted online workshops on circularity to 13-18-year-olds, as well as other workshops during COP26 in Glasgow; with play-based learning being at the forefront of their teaching strategies. In 2022, LEGO aims to amplify the findings of the 2021 LEGO Circular Economy and Youth Study which found of 6,000 children ages 8 to 18 care deeply for the planet, but find it difficult and challenging to comprehend circularity.
Lego’s sustainability efforts have soared recently due to COP26 and other pressing environmental issues. However, what really encouraged their move towards paper packaging was the letters they received in mass from children asking why they still use single-use plastic in our boxes. This encouraged an ambitious target of making all LEGO’s packaging sustainable by the end of 2025.
Prototype Bricks: 2021 saw the reveal of their first-ever prototype brick made from recycled materials. This prototype brick was made from recycled PET plastic bottles. To get to this stage, they had to ensure over 150 experts had tested over 250 variations of PET material to maintain the quality and consistency of previous bricks. In 2018, LEGO also started making a range of sustainable elements from sugarcane to create polythene, a soft, durable, and flexible plastic. As sugarcane grows at the same rate as LEGO’s production rate, it is a sustainable source.
Saying no to single-use: Currently, 93% of LEGO’s packaging by weight consists of paper-based packing. However, some of their packaging is still heavily reliant on single-use plastics. This has encouraged LEGO to commit to urgent action in the phasing out of all single-use packaging. 83% of paper-based packaging is recycled into new products so it’s no wonder LEGO is using this to their advantage and producing over 75% of their cardboard packaging using recycled materials.
Paper not plastic: From March 2022, the rollout of fully recyclable paper packaging inside all sets has begun. They have been designed not only with the environment in mind, but to teach and help children understand the importance of recycling. These are to be phased in over a four-year period. Paper-pulp trays can now be found in all LEGO advent calendars, saving up to 1 million plastic trays from going to landfill.
LEGO Replay: Almost 700,000lbs of LEGO bricks were donated to the LEGO Replay Programme. LEGO replay is to inspire fellow brick owners to pass along their bricks that they are no longer using, encouraging less waste and more recycling opportunities.
Supplier Conscious: Being more conscious of their suppliers, selecting only suppliers who have low-risk non-conformities. They have been strengthening their supplier capabilities whilst also committing to the Carbon Disclosure Project.
Store-Bought Sustainability: At the end of 2019, LEGO announced the phase-out of all plastic retail bags in all 500 of their stores. The replacement for these is paper bags which are made from 100% certified FSC materials.
LEGO prides itself on having a timeless product that continues to function just as well as it did when it was first produced. Their belief that no-good toy should ever go to waste is feeding their thirst for sustainability goals for the future. Some of their 2022 outlined sustainability ambitions are inclusive of:
- No waste going to landfill by 2025.
- Working towards a circular economy.
- Launching LEGO replay in 3 countries, expanding from the 23,000 children that are already benefitting from this scheme.
- Run 100% carbon-neutral manufacturing operations.
- Reach 8 million children to inspire and develop life-long skills and learn about sustainability through play using play through learning community programs.
- Roll out paper bags inside LEGO boxes to replace single-use packaging by 100% by 2025.
So, the next time you fancy building a LEGO set or two, you can do so knowing you are investing in a sustainable hobby.