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Home > News > Recycling

Lego drops plan to make bricks from rPET, challenge underlined

Source:Adsale Plastics Network Date :2023-09-27 Editor :VC
Copyright: Original work. Please do not reprint.

Lego has abandoned its pilot program to make recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) bricks from recycled plastic bottles, according to media reports, after calculations indicating that the manufacturing process would have a higher carbon footprint than the production of oil-based bricks.

 

The Danish toymaker unveiled its first prototype rPET Lego bricks in 2021 as part of the mission to have all of its products made from sustainable materials.


Lego_rPET bricks_plan_480.jpg 

Lego unveiled its first prototype bricks made from rPET in 2021. (Photo: Lego)

 

As reported, Lego tested rPET as a more sustainable alternative to acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) it uses in 80% of its toys. It has found, however, making bricks from the recycled material would require retooling manufacturing facilities and involve more production steps, which would ultimately generate more emissions over the product's lifecycle.

 

In order to scale production, the level of disruption to the manufacturing environment was such that the company needed to change everything in its factories, and the result of potential higher carbon footprint was “disappointing”, Lego's Head of Sustainability Tom Brooks told Financial Times.

 

The rPET also requires large amounts of energy for processing and drying, as well as additional chemicals for achieving the durability of current Lego bricks, explained Tom Brooks.

 

rPET not as durable as ABS for Lego bricks

 

A company spokesperson told CNN that Lego has made the decision not to proceed making rPET bricks after more than three years of testing.

 

It is worth noting that the spokesperson added that testing also showed the recycled plastic was not as durable and safe as ABS, and it didn’t have the “clutch power” which enables bricks to stick together and be pulled apart easily.

 

The spokesman emphasized that the company remains fully committed to making Lego bricks from sustainable materials by 2032, as rPET is just among the hundreds of materials tested to replacement ABS.


Lego_rPET bricks_480.jpg

Testing also showed that rPET was not as durable and safe as ABS for Lego bricks. (Photo: Lego)

 

Bioplastics and other alternatives

 

In addition to recycled materials, Lego is investigating alternative solutions including bioplastics. Indeed, the company launched its first botanical-themed elements made from bio-polyethylene (bio-PE) in 2018.

 

Besides, Lego is also looking to exploring the potential of bio-based and recycled substitutes for the chemicals that make up ABS.

 

Nonetheless, Lego CEO Niels Christiansen told Financial Times that he believes no single material will be a magic bullet. He said, “It's just not been possible to find a material like that.”

 

Lego’s decision, no doubt, underlines the challenge companies face in moving from theory to practice on the road to circular economy and carbon neutrality.

 


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 SHANDONGZHENHUAXINCAILIAOYOUXIANGONGSI      
 Xiamen Haozhao Technology Co., LTD      
 GUOHENG(DONG GUAN) PLASTIC TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD.      

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