LEGO recently committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 37% by 2032, a goal that will require major changes to the manufacturing and packaging of LEGO sets. Now, the company is showing off its first prototype brick made entirely from recycled PET bottles.
The journey toward sustainable LEGO bricks has been a long time coming. Back in 2018, LEGO began using bio-PE material sustainably sourced from sugar cane to manufacture soft LEGO pieces, like tree leaves and minifigure capes. The company has also found success in replacing its packaging with environmentally-friendly materials and aims for 100% sustainable packaging by 2025.
But crafting hard and durable LEGO bricks without single-use plastic is a difficult task. Plant-based plastics just don’t get the job done, and it’s hard to find a recyclable material that’s both durable and easy to process.
But recycled PET bottles may be the answer to LEGO’s problem. Through a newly-devised process, LEGO can shred and mold plastic bottles into bricks that are durable, uniformly shaped, and painful to step on. These bricks are colorless, and LEGO hints that the manufacturing process isn’t 100% reliable, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
LEGO’s process must be pretty efficient—the company says that a one-liter PET bottle can provide enough material for ten standard-sized (2×4) LEGO bricks. If you have a dozen one-liter bottles in your recycling bin, for example, LEGO could turn them into 120 bricks (assuming that the bottles are PET plastic).
We don’t know when the first recycled LEGO bricks will find their way into a set (or replace single-use LEGOs entirely), but it will probably happen in the next few years. LEGO has made considerable progress since is started developing sustainable bricks in 2020, and the company is pouring tons of resources into a more sustainable future. You can read more about LEGO’s environmental goals on the company’s website.