Since its emergence as building toy powerhouse in the 1970s, LEGO has been producing its famous bricks from petroleum-based plastics. Now, the Danish company is investing millions of dollars to research and develop new, environmentally friendly and sustainable methods of producing LEGO elements and packing materials. LEGO aims to ditch oil-based plastics entirely by the year 2030.
“You could say that it’s a logical place for us to find a way of reducing our environmental footprint. If you look at our CO2 footprint as a company, the majority of our impact comes from offscreen activities—basically what happens before we receive any raw materials in our factory,” said Roar Trangbaek, press officer for the LEGO Group.
LEGO has seen a sharp rise in sales over the last twenty years, piqued by its deal with Lucasfilm to produce LEGO Star Wars tie-in sets, the first of many lucrative film deals that includes Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Batman. As such, the company’s carbon footprint has risen sharply, three-quarters of which comes from the extraction and refinement of plastics from oil. Though LEGO has been keen to offset its footprint with other environmental projects, it has decided that its efforts were not making the desired impact.
$150 million is being spent on the new LEGO Sustainable Materials Center, which is due to be completed by 2016. It will employ around 100 materials specialists tasked with developing a new, green method of producing LEGO bricks without compromising the integrity or quality of its products.
LEGO says of the new Sustainability Center in the accompanying press release:
- The LEGO Group dedicates 1 billion DKK and sets up LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre to find and implement new sustainable alternatives to current raw materials.
- More than 100 employees are expected to be recruited predominantly in the LEGO Group headquarters in Billund Denmark, to work on the task in the coming years.
- The structure and organisation of the LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre will be developed during 2015 and 2016.
- The LEGO Group will continuously report on the progress and learnings gained towards the 2030 ambition.
“What we announce today is a long-term investment and a dedication to ensuring the continued research and development of new materials that will enable us to continue to deliver great, high quality creative play experiences in the future, while caring for the environment and future generations. It is a daunting and exciting challenge,” Jørgen Vig Knudstorp of the LEGO Group added.
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