Sweet Greenery: LEGO Chooses Sugarcane over Oil in Plastic Toys

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March 1, 2018

LEGO will start making toys from plants, the company said.

The Danish company has used petroleum in the plastic used to make its toys for decades. Now, however, in a move toward sustainability, LEGO will use sugarcane to power its plastics. First off the rank, in a nod to being green, are trees and bushes, which will be made of a software plastic known as polyethylene.

LEGO greenery

The sugarcane is grown in Brazil on land that's already being used for agriculture; in other words, LEGO isn't demanding that rainforest land be cleared in order to make toys.

The plant-based LEGO trees, bushes, and leaves will begin appearing on store shelves by the end of the year, the company said. Using sugarcane in the rest of the company's products has a longer timeline: LEGO has set a deadline of 2030 for that.

At the moment, most LEGO toys are made using oil-based ABS plastic, which is lightweight, heat-resistant, impact-resistant, and relatively low in cost to use. The company estimates that three-quarters of its carbon footprint comes from the extraction and refinement of the oil used in ABS plastic.

The move away from oil began in 2015, when LEGO publicly broke with Shell after getting pressure from environmental group Greenpeace. The following year, the company set up a Sustainable Materials Centre at its headquarters, in Billund, and hire more than 100 new employees to concentrate on sustainability.

LEGO is traditionally very high in any list of toy manufacturers. A recent estimate put the number of LEGO pieces made in a calendar year to be more than 60 billion.

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