How One Empire Built on Plastic is Investing in a Sustainable Future

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If you were born sometime in the last century, chances are you’ve heard of LEGOs. You’ve probably even owned some, either as a child or later when you had your own children. Fond memories of building structures long into the wee hours of the night or frustrated moments of searching for that one singly piece you need to complete a project are shared by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Today, the demand for LEGOs continues to grow, with a full on LEGOLAND theme park and a successful franchise of LEGO video games and movies. And all the while, the LEGO Group producing some 19 billion new LEGO pieces each and every year. But as LEGOS continue to soar in popularity, the growing concern about the impacts of plastic on the environment has caused some to express concern.

That’s why in 2015, LEGO announced to the world that they planned to invest $155 million into developing non-oil-based sources for the different plastics that they use to construct one of America’s favorite toys. It’s not just the fact that many plastics never breakdown, causing landfills to grow at alarming rates. But it’s also the fact that petroleum and natural gas are needed to produce the plastic toys, which uses energy and can produce high levels of carbon dioxide.

LEGO wasted no time in searching out eco-friendly sources for their blocks. They established the LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre in Billund, Denmark where more than 100 positions are being filled by some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the world. Over the past two years, several experiments have been conducted, including one with wheat sugar that was abandoned after the prototypes could not hold the right shiny colors that consumers have come to expect from their legos. This has all been done with the goal of finding eco-friendly materials for each of the 20 plastics currently used in constructing LEGO products by the year 2030.

Lego Media Library

With next year marking the 60th Anniversary for LEGO, their commitment to a sustainable future has already been well established. Just a few short months ago, the LEGO Group achieved another ambitious goal of using a renewable energy source to power at least 50% of its operations. Millions of dollars were invested in constructing two off-shore wind farms that is not only powering LEGO’s operations, but is provide energy to some 230,000 British homes.

It’s clear that the beloved childhood toy of countless people from multiple generations will continue to endure as time passes. But the LEGOs of the future, while just as fun to play with, will hopefully contribute to a worldwide eco-friendly policy that will sustain the environment for many years to come.

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