Sometimes progress doesn’t happen all at once. Sometimes it happens in baby steps. In the “some progress is better than none” category, there is this news. LEGO will be adding some pieces to its products this year that are made from plant-based plastic derived from sugar cane.
“At Lego we want to make a positive impact on the world around us, and are working hard to make great play products for children using sustainable materials,” Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at the Lego Group tells The Guardian. “This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all Lego bricks using sustainable materials.”
Ambitious may be too strong a word, Tim. The new pieces will account for about 1% of the Danish company’s product mix but, hey, it’s a start. And if LEGO can do it, other manufacturers could too, right?
Lego has linked up with the World Wildlife Foundation to create awareness about sustainable plastics and has joined the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance to promote the bioplastics industry.
The famous LEGO bricks are currently made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, which is derived from petroleum. While it is strong and durable, it is next to impossible to recycle. The new plant-based pieces are not quite biodegradable but they can be recycled into new pieces. This latest announcement from the company makes no mention of creating a collection process to facilitate recycling of the new sustainably-sourced pieces and the others that will follow in coming years.
The new pieces have been extensively tested to make sure they live up to the high standards the company is known for. One of the keys to its success is the fact that a brick manufactured in 1990 will fit perfectly with a brick manufactured last week. That uniformity allows LEGO customers to donate pieces no longer needed to friends, family, or charity organizations so others can create new LEGO displays from existing pieces. Bioplastics are not quite as tough and long lasting — yet. But LEGO is working on it.
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