Whether they’re used in architecture or animal prosthesis, we have an enduring affection for LEGO bricks—but they do have a nagging problem; the blocks and all their packaging are made of plastic, which is pretty darn horrible for the environment. While some folks have tried to offer sustainable alternatives—notably the rather drab-looking Earth Blocks—LEGO hasn’t stepped forward with their own eco-friendly alternative. But that is set to change, as the company just announced that they will invest $150 million to build a sustainable materials research center at their headquarters in Denmark. LEGO is hiring over 100 specialists in material science to shape the new, green future of everyone’s favorite building brick.
The launch of LEGO’s materials research center is a dramatic step forward for the company, which announced plans in 2012 to replace all raw materials used to make their 60 billion pieces per year with sustainable materials by 2030. In a statement, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the LEGO Group said “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.”
LEGO Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen added: “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.”
As for how LEGO defines sustainability, Vig Kundstorp explained “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.” And their research is likely to influence other other fields that are heavily reliant upon plastic. LEGO has said their will continuously update on their progress in the run up to 2030.
Lead photo via Shutterstock