Lego launches reuse platform for old plastic bricks

The Lego Group has announced the launch of a pilot programme that will see the company partner with recycling charity Give Back Box to enable consumers to donate old lego bricks to be redistributed to children's non-profits in the US.

The pilot is currently only available in the US, and Lego will explore an expansion in 2020

The pilot is currently only available in the US, and Lego will explore an expansion in 2020

Lego has spent three years examining the possibility of creating a reuse platform for old toy bricks, to ensure that any collection and redistribution was aligned to quality and safety standards and adhered to US regulations.

The company has now announced Lego Replay, and the pilot platform will accept all used Lego bricks from US households and donate them.

Consumers can print out free UPS shipping labels and attach them to a cardboard box filled with old Lego products. The packages will be sent to a Give Back Box facility, where each brick will be sorted, inspected by hand, and cleaned. The boxes will then be sent to children’s charities across the US.

“We know people don’t throw away their Lego bricks,” the company’s vice president of environmental responsibility, Tim Brooks said. “The vast majority hand them down to their children or grandchildren. But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks. With Replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful.”

Lego’s website estimates that 97% of Lego owners keep or share their bricks, passing them on to friends or family.

Lego is collaborating with Give Back Box, which recycles and reuses 11 million tonnes of unused textiles, clothing and footwear in the US each year, and non-profits Teach For America, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.

The first shipment of second-hand bricks will be set to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston for after-school programmes in November 2019. The pilot will run until spring 2020 when the Lego Group will explore a potential expansion of the initiative.

Brick by brick

The reuse effort builds on Lego’s efforts to improve the environmental impact of its products. Last year, the first range of Lego botanical elements or pieces such as leaves, bushes and trees, made entirely from plant-based plastic went on sale.

The move is part of Lego’s commitment to using more sustainable materials in its core products - including its eponymous bricks - and packaging by 2030. 

In 2017, the Group revealed that it has reached its target of balancing 100% of its energy use with energy from renewable sources three years early.

Last month, rival toymaker Hasbro set a two-year window to phase out virtually all plastic from product packaging for new products, with a deadline set for the end of 2022.

Matt Mace



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