LEGO’s building blocks for a greener future

Founded in Denmark in the 1930s, LEGO has entertained generations of kids with its distinctive multi-coloured bricks and the wide variety of sets to construct piece by piece.

In more recent years, LEGO has recognised the role it plays in the lives of children, opening up the scope to not only entertain but educate the next generation about sustainability. Just as its sets encourage children to think outside the box with their constructions, it is starting to also open minds to different ways of building the world of tomorrow too.

Back to bricks

There are an estimated 400 billion LEGO bricks in the world, equivalent to 62 bricks for every person on the planet. For many years, LEGO has been conscious of its impact on the environment, with high demand for crude oil to source the plastic used in the manufacturing of its products. In 2014, according to Greenpeace, pressure to change its ways led to LEGO ending a half-century-long partnership with oil company Royal Dutch Shell.

According to its sustainability report for the first half of 2021, LEGO reiterated its ambition to meet the goal of making its bricks from more sustainable materials by 2030. From 2021 onwards, bricks are already being sourced using polyethylene derived from sugarcane rather than crude oil. This bio-based product allows LEGO to become a significant player in the bioeconomy conversation, and the company intends to double the amount of bio-polyethylene-based products in the coming years.

Packaging is a significant contributor to environmental damage, so LEGO has sought ways to limit the use of single-use plastic in its packaging, 91 per cent of which is now made of biodegradable paper and cardboard. By 2025, all packaging is intended to be sustainable, eliminating unwanted plastic waste from littering the environment. The bricks themselves are intended to be recycled, but not through the more obvious method of disposal but through the passing down from generation to generation, allowing more people to have a go.

Building towards 2030

As noted, LEGO has 2030 in its sights as a deadline for more sustainable materials becoming the norm for its production lines. LEGO has taken inspiration from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 8, pertaining to ‘Quality Education’ and ‘Responsible Consumption & Production’, the latter of which has already been referred to through LEGO’s 2025 and 2030 deadlines. To make good on Goal 4, LEGO has been running a Learning Through Play programme.

Since 2019, LEGO has managed to reach out to roughly three million children per year through Learning Through Play, while releasing sets which are designed to broaden a child’s understanding of more sustainable living. Rather than just building standard sets corresponding to the world around them, children can now build LEGO electric cars. In addition, LEGO released a set which allows children to build a model of a Vestas wind turbine.

The set allows them to build the turbine from the ground up, seeing how a real-life one works to harness the power of the wind itself. From small beginnings, it is possible for children to see the benefits of more sustainable life beyond oil and the world of yesterday. Rest assured that LEGO is literally providing the building blocks for the future.

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