Kids have spoken, and LEGO has listened. “We have received many letters from children about the environment asking us to remove single-use plastic packaging,” Niels B. Christiansen, LEGO Group CEO, said in a statement. “We have been exploring alternatives for some time and the passion and ideas from children inspired us to begin to make the change.”
The Danish toymaker announced Tuesday that it will replace the plastic bags inside boxed LEGO sets with recyclable paper bags. Over the next five years, the company expects to completely phase out the plastic bags.
Of course, the bag issue is ironic considering LEGO turns about 90,000 metric tons of plastic per year into its iconic bricks. Though the company has tried finding alternative materials, so far nothing else is as durable. Currently, 2% of LEGO pieces — including LEGO trees and bushes — are made from sugar cane. The company is working to increase and improve plant-based “bio bricks” and to make all products from sustainable materials by 2030.
For now, LEGO stresses that kids can use the plastic bricks forever — no need to put them in the world’s landfills. The bricks manufactured today fit those made 40 years ago. If you don’t have anybody to pass your collection on to, the LEGO Replay program helps customers donate used bricks to LEGO-deprived kids in the U.S. and Canada. The company plans to expand Replay to other countries.
LEGO also added solar panels to its factories as part of its goal of a carbon-neutral manufacturing process by 2022. The company has also improved waste handling and reduced water consumption.
“We cannot lose sight of the fundamental challenges facing future generations,” said Christiansen. “It’s critical we take urgent action now to care for the planet and future generations. As a company who looks to children as our role models, we are inspired by the millions of kids who have called for more urgent action on climate change. We believe they should have access to opportunities to develop the skills necessary to create a sustainable future. We will step up our efforts to use our resources, networks, expertise and platforms to make a positive difference.”
Images via LEGO