Earlier this year, LEGO announced that they were beginning production on a new line of botanical-themed pieces made from sugarcane. This new line is just the start of the company's goal to only use sustainable materials in all major products and packaging by 2030. Here we will explore the process behind LEGO’s “going green” initiative, and the challenges they’ve faced in making more environmentally-friendly building blocks along the way.
The very first LEGO bricks went into production in 1949, and were made from cellulose acetate which the company realized bends over time. In 1963, it was replaced by acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, commonly known as ABS, and is still used in bricks today. Currently, the pieces are made from four different types of materials, which gives certain elements transparent, elastic, and flexible properties, depending on their specific use.
LEGO has faced a few challenges in developing the new materials, while also ensuring that the quality, safety, and durability of the product remains at the highest level. Their long term goal is to make all LEGOs from materials that are either recycled or plant based with at least 25% bio-content.
The company's biggest hurdle is how to manufacture the new pieces in a quick manner. The look, feel, sound, and function needs to be as consistent as possible, so that customers are receiving an almost-identical product as what they are used to purchasing. Aside from sugarcane, the company is also considering other prospects for environmentally-friendly materials, such as corn.
To celebrate the introduction of the sugarcane pieces, the company is releasing a limited edition gift-with-purchase “40320 Plants from Parts” box which features 29 elements inside.
Learn more about the sustainable pieces here.
h/t New Elementary