THE LEGO Group recently announced a significant investment of DKK 1 billion dedicated to research, development and implementation of new, sustainable, raw materials to manufacture LEGO® elements as well as packaging materials. The group has established a LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre and expects to recruit more than 100 employees in a significant step up on the 2030 ambition of finding and implementing sustainable alternatives to current materials. The centre will be based at the LEGO Group’s headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and include all current functions and employees working to find alternative materials. The LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre organisation will be established during 2015 and 2016, and it is expected that it will include satellite functions located in relevant locations around the globe. In addition, the centre will collaborate and develop partnerships with relevant external stakeholders and experts.
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the LEGO Group, said: “This is a major step for the LEGO Group on our way towards achieving our 2030 ambition on sustainable materials. We have already taken important steps to reduce our carbon footprint and leave a positive impact on the planet by reducing the packaging size, by introducing FSC certified packaging and through our investment in an offshore wind farm. Now we are accelerating our focus on materials.”
LEGO Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen commented on the announcement: “Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We believe that our main contribution to this is through the creative play experiences we provide to children. The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit. It is certainly in line with the mission of the LEGO Group and in line with the motto of my grandfather and founder of the LEGO Group, Ole Kirk Kristiansen: Only the best is good enough”.
Significant resources required The decision to significantly boost the search for sustainable materials was taken at the recent General Assembly of the LEGO Group in May 2015.
In 2012, the LEGO Group first shared its ambition to find and implement sustainable alternatives to the current raw materials used to manufacture LEGO products by 2030. The ambition is part of the LEGO Group’s work to reduce its environmental footprint and leave a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit. As an example, in 2014 more than 60 billion LEGO elements were made – and finding alternatives to the materials used to make these bricks would significantly reduce the LEGO Group’s impact on the planet.
“The testing and research we have already done has given us greater visibility of the challenges we face to succeed on this agenda and we respond by adding significant resources in order to be ready to move into the next phase of finding and implementing the sustainable materials. I am truly excited by the full commitment of the Board of Directors and our owner family to significantly boost the work to ensure a lasting positive impact,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp.When the LEGO Group is ready to introduce new materials it is vital that it does not compromise the quality or safety standards set by the LEGO Group and expected by parents. Consequently, the LEGO Group will continue to seek extensive research and robust data to ensure that all aspects of safety and quality are considered.
“This is paramount to us as it enables us to provide children with a unique play experience that inspires and develops them and enables them to build a better tomorrow. This is ultimately the reason for our continued efforts to always do better,” says Jørgen Vig Knudstorp.
Collaborating to find alternatives The LEGO Group will not be able to solve the task of finding and implementing new materials alone. In recent years, the Group has collaborated with companies and experts on the task and these relationships will continue with existing as well as new partners with expertise in the field.An example is the Climate Savers partnership between the LEGO Group and WWF signed in 2013, which has targets on developing a sustainable materials strategy. A new collaboration with WWF was agreed in spring 2015 and focuses on better assessing the overall sustainability and environmental impact of new bio-based materials for LEGO elements and packaging.
“There is no common definition of a sustainable material. Several factors influence the environmental sustainability of a material – the composition of the material, how it is sourced and what happens when the product reaches the end of its life. When we search for new materials all of these factors must be considered,” says Jørgen Vig Knudstorp.
The LEGO Group believes a new sustainable material must have an ever-lighter footprint than the material it replaces across key environmental and social impact areas such as fossil resource use, human rights and climate change.
Awesome, we say.