Last year, we revealed the look and sound of paper bags being introduced to replace the single-use plastic bags found containing our elements within LEGO Sets. Today, we hear that the Sustainability Juggernaut drives on, with the LEGO Group announcing that single-use plastic stickers will be discontinued in the coming months.
Speaking at a late night sustainability forum in Copenhagen, Project Lead Just Stikkarssen explained, “We have been listening to our fans, both young and old, and they told us that they don’t like single-use stickers.”
When we play with LEGO Bricks, there is one fundamental thing that people have come to expect: you can build a model, pull it apart, and use the parts again for something completely different. Single-use stickers represent the opposite point of view. Once applied, they are locked into a single function. With recent advances in design and printing technology, we have realised that decorative elements such as stickers are just as important in the Building Experience as the more tangible LEGO elements such as the iconic 2×4 brick. With the increased investment in the skills of talented Graphic Designers, we don’t want to see their hard work thrown away: We want to celebrate it.
“We have found some of our best results for colour fastness and print detail have been achieved using plastic sticker stock. However, once applied, the stickers are fixed in place until they bubble, crack or degrade in some other way after a few years. To say nothing about the problems of permanent malalignment if they are applied in a haphazard fashion. After their application to a LEGO element, they cannot be reused. Following on from our recent commitments to eliminate single-use plastics from all LEGO boxes, we realised that we needed to find a solution for this problem.”
Extensive experiments with paper-based decals revealed that they fail to meet the LEGO Group’s high standards to endure the rigorous demands of a child’s play: they are prone to colour bleeding, tearing and wearing thin with repeated touches.
“Recent polymer research development has seen an increased variety of transparent elements available. We are excited to announce that after years of research, we have developed a novel, transparent bio-polypropylene membrane that can be held firmly in place on LEGO Bricks through static electricity. Decals printed on this polymer can be removed and reused and reused again – thus gaining the reusability intrinsic to any other LEGO Element.”
Reusable decals, made of PVC, have been available from third parties in the past, but performance often degrades over time, thanks to the loss of static charge from the decal. These new stickers can have their static charge renewed by simply rubbing them with a special recharging cloth.
But the best feature of these new decals is their transparency: In the past, if a decal was printed on opaque stock, you would need to put them on a LEGO brick of similar colour for them to look right. These new decals are transparent and can be used to decorate elements of virtually every colour. This new polymer is sustainable: the base monomer is derived from a chemical found in banana peels, a fully renewable raw material. There is no need to use petroleum byproducts in their production.
Vice President for Sustainability Tim Brooks said, “At the LEGO Group, we are excited to be on target to eliminate single-use plastics from our sets by 2025.”
Does this mean we will see an increase in the number of printed elements appearing in sets now?
Probably not. Itsa Jøkesen, Warehousing and Logistics officer for the new project explains: “We feel we have the balance between decals and prints just about right within the total portfolio. For every element we produce, we need an extra storage bin in the warehouse – and every printed tile demands its own storage space. On the other hand, a sheet of stickers might include decorations for up to 24 elements – saving lots of space in the warehouse and allowing us to increase the variety of elements available in new colours, such as vibrant yellow. Besides, a brick with the word ‘Cafe’ printed on it is forever doomed to be used as part of a cafe.”
VIP Rewards Centre Exclusive: Be one of the first to own these new reusable sticker sheets:
To celebrate the development of their new reusable sticker technology, the LEGO Group is releasing an updated tribute to one of the most popular sticker sheets ever released -the sticker sheet originally included inside the 6000 LEGO Ideas book from 1979. Some graphics had to be revised, as the company is no longer able to use trademarks belonging to Red Cross or Shell.
I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy for review, and I can report that the labels were easy to apply and remove. The colour was durable, surviving repeated blows with a hammer, after attempts to scratch the printing off with a nail file failed!
This sheet will be available for 500 VIP points from the VIP Rewards Centre on LEGO.COM from the 31st of April, 2023 while stocks last. While this current sheet has predominantly City-focussed, we have been assured a sheet featuring a variety of Vintage Space prints (including logos for Classic Space, M-Tron, Blacktron, Ice Planet and Space Police) will be arriving on June 31st, with Castle and Pirates following on later in the year.
And so, as the LEGO Group continues to move away from single-use plastics in all of its products, I am looking forward to these new decals rolling out, safe in the knowledge that if my pudgy fingers fail to place them in the correct place, they can be easily removed and repositioned.
I have to admit, here in Australia I have been really impressed with some of the sticker sheets that I have seen this year: MK Ultra Mech, Jay’s Titan Mech, Rivendell, and even, dare I say, the Blacktron Cruiser. They have all left me wishing I had more. Here’s hoping the new sheets will be available on Bricks N Pieces!
What do you think of this new development? Have Stickers been the bane of your existence? Will this new innovation help you to learn to love them? Did Why not leave your comments below, and until next time,