Lego Group shelves plans to make bricks from recycled PET



After announcing proposals to manufacture LEGO® bricks from recycled PET in 2021, the toy giant has shelved the plans after finding using the material did not reduce carbon emissions. 

The move, which was first reported in The Financial Times, comes after the Danish company unveiled a prototype LEGO® brick made from recycled plastic in 2021.

The prototype used PET plastic from discarded bottles and Lego said was the first brick made from a recycled material to meet its quality and safety requirements.

However, Lego has told Circular Online that after more than two years of testing, it found using the material didn’t reduce carbon emissions because of the extra steps required in the production process that use more energy.

The Lego Group says recycled PET is one of “hundreds of different” sustainable materials they have tested.

Lego bricks
The prototype brick used PET plastic from discarded bottles.

Currently, many of the 4,400 bricks Lego makes are manufactured using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a virgin plastic made from crude oil. 

Lego says it remains “fully committed” to making LEGO bricks from sustainable materials by 2032. The Danish toy giant also told Circular Online it is investing over $1.4 billion in sustainability initiatives to transition to more sustainable materials and reduce carbon emissions by 37% by 2032 – scope 1,2 and 3 emissions calculated using 2019 as the base year.

In 2020, Lego announced it would begin removing single-use plastic from its boxes and, in 2018, it began producing elements from bio-polyethylene (bio-PE), made from sustainably sourced sugarcane.

In a statement given to Circular Online, a LEGO Group spokesperson said: “We have decided not to progress making bricks from recycled PET after more than two years of testing as we found the material didn’t reduce carbon emissions.

“We are currently testing and developing LEGO bricks made from a range of alternative sustainable materials, including other recycled plastics and plastics made from alternative sources such as e-methanol. We will continue to use bio-PE to make LEGO elements such as leaves, trees and accessories which are found in around half of our sets.

“We will also significantly increase investment in certified materials using the mass balance approach. We believe that in the long-term this will encourage increased production of more sustainable raw materials.”


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