LEGO recently announced they now have a prototype brick made from recycled plastic that lives up to company standards for the iconic building toy.
The new prototype uses PET plastic from discarded bottles, yet it meets all the company’s strict quality and safety requirements.
A team of more than 150 scientists and engineers are working to find sustainable solutions for LEGO products. Over the past three years, they’ve tested over 250 variations of PET materials and hundreds of other formulations. The result is a brick that meets several play requirements—including clutch power. (See video below showing their testing fun.)
“We are super excited about this breakthrough,” says the Vice President of Environmental Responsibility at LEGO, Tim Brooks. “The biggest challenge on our sustainability journey is rethinking and innovating new materials that are as durable, strong and high quality as our existing bricks—and fit with LEGO elements made over the past 60 years.”
However, it will be some time before bricks made from a recycled material appear in stores. The next phase of testing is expected to take at least a year, but they do have a patent pending on the material formulation which “increases the durability of PET to make it strong enough for LEGO bricks.”
“Even though it will be a while before they will be able to play with bricks made from recycled plastic, we want to let kids know we’re working on it and bring them along on the journey with us.” says Brooks. “Experimentation and failing is an important part of learning and innovation. Just as kids build, unbuild and rebuild with LEGO bricks at home, we’re doing the same in our lab.”
The prototype is made from recycled PET sourced from suppliers in the United States that use US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority approved processes to ensure quality. On average, a one-liter plastic PET bottle provides enough raw material for ten small LEGO bricks.
In 2020, the company announced it will begin removing single-use plastic from its boxes. And, the company said it will invest up to US $400 million over three years to 2022 to accelerate its sustainability ambitions.