Lego announced 14 September that it is investing another $400 million in its sustainability efforts and it will stop using plastic packaging in its packs, using a paper bag instead to hold small pieces within its cardboard box outer packaging.
"We have received many letters from children about the environment asking us to remove single-use plastic packaging. We have been exploring alternatives for some time and the passion and ideas from children inspired us to begin to make the change," CEO Niels B Christiansen said in a news release.
Moving away from plastic bags will not be simple, Lego noted. It still wanted durable and lightweight options. It tested prototypes with children who preferred paper bags because they were easy to open and considered more environmentally friendly.
Lego will begin phasing out plastic bags in 2021 and aims to make all packaging sustainable by 2025.
Lego is also continuing its work to develop more sustainable materials to produces its bricks. In 2015, the Group set a target to make its products from sustainable materials by 2030. The company plans to expand its use of bio-bricks, such as those made from plastic materials derived from sugar cane, which currently account for almost 2% of its element portfolio, and continue research into other, new plastics from renewable and recycled sources.
To that end, the Group is joining forces with research institutes and other companies especially those developing new recycling and bio-based material production technologies to find materials which are as durable and high quality as those used today.
Officials have noted that replacing standard plastic is complicated by the fact that bio-based bricks must be able to work seamlessly with parts made more than 40 years ago.
The planned investments include both costs associated with the development of new sustainable materials and the investments in manufacturing equipment.
Beyond the bags and bricks, Lego also is further promoting its in-house system to allow users to donate their bricks to new users. "Lego Reply" was tested in the U.S. in 2019 and is being expanded to two more countries at the end of 2022.
Lego says 23,000 children in the U.S. have received donated toys through the program.