Bricks made from recycled drinks bottles will be found in the shelves within just two years according to a target set by the toy giant Lego. The main challenge for Lego is to come up with a a sustainable product that can last years and even decades in place of plastic. Lego makes about 3,500 different bricks and shapes.
Lego’s Tim Brooks said that the target of the company is to find a product that is good enough so that the customers do not notice the difference.
No details of how many of the bricks will contain recycled material was provided by Brooks even though be added: “It’s too soon to say.”
The company wants to start using the bricks made from recycled bottles “as soon as possible”, he said.
“Cleaning it [the bottles] up and getting it to turn into Hogwarts Castle is a challenge,” he said, referring to Harry Potter merchandise. “A super-fun challenge.”
Just like any other Lego product, the two types of blocks should fit together and be interchangeable, said Brooks, Lego’s vice president of sustainability.
In the next stage of sustainability, Lego will have to contend with adding colours to the prototype bricks and then test them with children and adult fans.
To make its new plastic toy parts, the company would initially acquire soft drinks bottles from the United States, Lego said. The company however added that it would not be sustainable to use plastic recovered from the oceans as those would generally be too degraded.
The recycled plastic plan is “certainly preferable to using virgin plastic” but she “hopes the supply of single use plastic bottles falls in future as people embrace reuse”, said Libby Peake, head of resource policy at the thinktank, Green Alliance.
With sustainability becoming more important to customers, a range of companies are making products from recycled plastic.
Calls for more sustainability when buying products in general were being made by many customers, both children and adult, and had even contacted the company in this matter, Lego said.
However “it’s really important that recycling isn’t hailed as the default solution to the plastics crisis”, said Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner Camilla Zerr.
“Manufacturers must ensure toys are made to endure many years of use, so they can be handed down and reused from generation to generation,” she added.
A target of making all of its core products from sustainable materials by 2030 was set by Lego in 2018. And in that effort to achieve sustainability, prototype bricks made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles with the addition of some other chemicals have been developed by the company, Brooks said.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a virgin plastic made from crude oil, is currently used by the company to make most of its bricks. The company would also potentially be able to make different shaped Lego pieces with the use of PET.
Brooks said that the current products of the company are durable enough to last for two to three generations of humans using them and that timeline is what the company is also trying to achieve with the use of PET.
(Adapted from BBC.com)