Lego ploughs £100m into research for greener products

The world's largest toymaker is to build a new Sustainable Materials Centre in its search for more environmentally-friendly materials to be used in its products and packaging.

Lego will invest a billion Danish Krone (around £100m) into the research and development of new raw materials for its trademark Lego blocks.

Lego Group CEO and President Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said the move was a major step towards achieving the company’s 2030 targets for using sustainable materials in its bricks.

“We have already taken important steps to reduce our carbon footprint and leave a positive impact on the planet by reducing the packaging size, by introducing FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) packaging and through our investment in an offshore wind farm,” said Knudstorp. “Now we are accelerating our focus on materials.”

Long-term vision

The investment will see Lego establish a Sustainable Materials Centre at its headquarters in Billund, Denmark. The group is planning to recruit more than 100 specialists within the materials field to find alternatives to its plastic bricks.

Lego, which sells its toys and teaching materials in more than 130 countries, announced in 2012 its aim to find sustainable alternatives to its current raw materials used in creating more than 60 billion Lego blocks each year. The decision to significantly boost this research was made at the company’s recent general assembly in May 2015.

Knudstorp added: “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 high quality creative play experiences for the future, while caring for the environment and future generations.”

Lego has already begun working with experts and companies in order to find and implement new materials. The company also began collaboration with WWF in 2013 and signed a new agreement earlier this year to help better assess the sustainability of new bio-based materials for Lego elements and packaging.

NOT awesome 

Last year, Lego came under sustained criticism from environmental campaign group Greenpeace over its partnership with oil giant Shell. The toymaker ultimately ended the partnership dating from the 1960s which saw Shell-branded Lego sets sold by the company.

Greenpeace protested against Shells plans for Arctic drilling and targeted Lego’s partnership with a scathing YouTube video, entitled “Everything is NOT awesome”, which attracted more than seven million views.

In February, Lego also announced investments to enable the company to reach its aim of producing more renewable energy than the energy it consumes with the construction of 78 wind turbines.

Speaking of the plans for the Sustainable Materials Centre, owner of the Lego Group Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen added: “The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit.”

Matt Field

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