A couple of weeks ago, I subjected some of the forthcoming internal paper bags to some stress testing, to see if they were going to withstand travelling in a ‘deboxed’ fashion, as well as holding together while soaking in water. The bags held together, but waster certainly got into the bags, and I drew the conclusion that the bags were likely to be typically fit for purpose, but might not stand up to floodwaters in the way that plastic bags might.
Readers Sue Ann and Trevor got in touch, and suggested that I might be overselling the ability of the plastic bags to protect the LEGO® elements from flood waters (with their associated stink and filth). And so, I put them to the test.
What did I do? And how did they perform? Read on, after the break
At the recent Recognised LEGO® Fan Media Days, we were treated to a presentation by the sustainability team with regard to progress being made on their various programs. The first part if the presentation was from Therese Noorlander, Senior Director of Sustainability Engagement. She spoke about some of the history of sustainability withing the LEGO Group – taking it back to the the Great Yo-Yo Craze of the 1930s: when the craze ended, leaving the company with boxes of unsold yo-yos, they were cut in half and used as wheels for toy wooden trucks, through to the ongoing research with regard to finding a sustainable material to use for plastic bricks. Most of this information has been published previously, and can be found on the LEGO Group’s sustainability website. However, some of the most exciting news, not previously covered elsewhere, came from Anne Boye Møller, who for the past four years has been the Project Lead for the sustainable prepack. She works with a team based in Denmark and the Czech Republic and was proud to announce that the first generation packing lines are ready to go, and some of the first SKUs(sets) have been packed using these paper bags.
Each year, we hear more and more about the steps that the LEGO Group are taking towards developing a more sustainable brick: elements from Bioplastic; Eliminating single use plastics, use of renewable energy and more. Today the LEGO Group have announced progress in the development of a brick made of recycled PET – the plastic commonly used in plastic bottles.
While the prototype bricks are still undergoing testing for suitability as a substitute for the current ABS bricks, there are still a few questions to be answered, including durability, strength and indeed the ability to ensure that they can be consistently coloured.
Recently, The LEGO Group announced that they were accelerating their timetable for eliminating single use plastics from their packaging. I had the opportunity to attend a roundtable meeting discussing the LEGO Group’s Sustainability Ambitions. Along with with ambassadors fro several Recognised LEGO® Fan Media and recognised LEGO® User Groups, this online meeting was with Tim Brooks, Vice President for Environnmental Responsibility, as well as Sustainable Materials Directors, Anne Boye Møller and Steen Kjeld Bach Pedersen.
The prime focus was on the recent announcement of the forthcoming trials of paper bags to replace the plastic bags used in LEGO® sets. However, there was a general discussion about the sustainability agenda at the LEGO group, the elimination of single use plastics, the LEGO Replay program, and the importance of children in establishing this agenda.
LEGO Group to invest up to US$400 million over three years to accelerate sustainability efforts
Over the last few years, we have heard about several sustainable initiatives that the LEGO Group has launched: Plant elements from Plants; Searches for non petrochemical based plastics for LEGO elements; improving the carbon offset through the development of offshore wind farms in Scandavavia, as well as roof top solar panels in China. Today, we are excited to hear about the LEGO Group’s Endeavour to eliminate single use plastics. Now, LEGO bricks are predominantly multiple use plastic.
But there remain the single use plastic bags in packaging: inside every box, helping to keep the elements wrangled while they wait to be build into something marvelous. Hiding, waiting until we have need of them. Often concealing themselves in the furthest corners of these bags.
And to that end, the Group have been looking at paper alternatives to these single use plastic bags, in the next few years, as well as making the product more sustainable through reducing waste, keeping LEGO Bricks in action for longer through the Replay program and and inpsiring kids to learn about sustainability through play.
In which we get a glimpse of another set re-released after 10 years and have a quick review of some of the recent steps the LEGO Group are taking towards a sustainable future.
Ten years ago, LEGO® set 4999 was released. A limited release set produced for Vestas®, a company which produces a significant number of wind turbines around the world, this set was never made available to the general public. Measuring over two feet high, it does have significant gravitas as a display piece.
Today, at the New York Climate Week, the LEGO Group has announced the re-release of this set, as 10268 Vestas Wind Turbine. This time, the set will be available to the general public, from Black Friday (November 23). With 826 elements, the count is a little higher than the 803 listed for the older set in the database maintained by Brickset. In Australia, it will cost $AUD329. A full international price list is listed at the bottom of this post.
The Vestas Wind Turbine also includes a Power Functions Battery box, M motor, with a long extension cable, to get the turbine spinning, as well as lights.
Consisting of the wind turbine sitting on a small hill, with a house, service van and three minifigures, this set maintains many of the characteristics of the original. Most of the elements in that set were readily available, except for one. A green ‘Large ugly rock piece.’ While these could easily be substituted for one in grey, the green one has gone back into production for this set. The trees in this set are some of the first ‘Plants from Plants’ available for purchase in LEGO sets. Earlier in the year, a promotional set was available, as a gift with purchase, in some markets.
The LEGO Group today announced that the production of sustainable LEGO® elements, from plant based plastics, has begun. Sourced from sugarcane, these elements include leaves, trees and bushes.
In 2015, the company began investing 1 Billion DKK in its source for sustainable materials and packaging, including a search for appropriate plastics that were sourced from non-oil based sources.
The first of the sustainable elements are made from polyethylene. This soft and durable plastic, based on sugarcane, has the same characteristics as the conventional plastics. Indeed these elements have been made of polyethylene, from non sustainable sources, for years and currently account for 1-2% of the total number of plastic elements produced by the LEGO Group. Continue reading →