A prototype LEGO® brick made from recycled plastic
Our ambition is to make LEGO® bricks from more sustainable materials by 2030 without compromising quality or safety. This means we need to develop entirely new materials that are safe and strong enough to be passed down through generations – and fit seamlessly with a LEGO brick made over 50 years ago.
In June 2021, we revealed our first prototype brick made from a recycled material. This prototype, made from recycled PET plastic bottles, marks an important step on our sustainable materials journey. It’s the culmination three years hard work from a team of more than 150 experts who have tested over 250 variations of PET materials.
In the first half of 2021, we expanded the range of bio-based LEGO elements made from renewable sugarcane to create polyethylene, a soft, durable and flexible plastic. There are currently more than 100 elements made from bio-polyethylene which are found in more than 40% of our products. We aim to at least double the number of bio-polyethylene elements over the next few years.
LEGO bricks are designed to be reused and handed down through generations, but LEGO boxes and other packaging are often disposed of quickly. Currently, 91% of our packaging by weight is made from recyclable paper and cardboard, while some of our packaging contains single-use disposable plastic. This kind of plastic isn’t recyclable in many areas of the world, meaning we do not consider it sustainable. That’s why we’re taking urgent action to make all our packaging more sustainable by 2025, by using only recyclable paper and cardboard and eliminating single use plastic.
As a next step, we are replacing the single-use plastic bags used in LEGO boxes to package the loose bricks. So far, several prototypes, made from a range of paper-based materials, have been tested with hundreds of parents and children. In 2021, we are completing a pilot project to test paper-based bags certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®C117818), and expect to introduce the new packaging in 2022.
We are also phasing out plastic carry bags in our LEGO® retail stores and replacing them with bags made from Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®C117818) certified paper.
Circularity inspires us
The LEGO System in Play supports the principles of circular design – a product made of quality materials with the durability, safety and consistency to be passed on and handed down through generations.
In 2020, we became a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) network as part of our efforts to design more ‘circular’ products and packaging and explore new business models.
In May 2021, we teamed up with EMF to host an online workshop on circularity for 13- to 18-year-olds. Using our Build the Change series, the event focused on engaging young people in the circular economy through creativity and play.
(206,327 kg) of LEGO bricks have been donated to the programme. This has extended the creative life of approximately 38.6 million bricks for up to 66,000 children in North America.
97% of LEGO owners keep or share their bricks, passing them on to friends or family. With the LEGO Replay programme we want to inspire and help LEGO brick owners pass along the bricks they aren’t using – keeping LEGO bricks in play and circulation.
Reducing our CO2 impact
Science Based Target
Total carbon emissions
In 2020, the total greenhouse gas emissions from our global operations and supply chain were 1.2 million tonnes of carbondioxide equivalent (tCO2e). In the same year, we changed the way we calculate our carbon footprint to more accurately reflect our renewable energy purchases.
This means that the actual CO2 footprint of the electricity we use, is smaller compared to previous years, where it was calculated using country-by-country averages.
Read our 2020 CO2 Emissions Report to learn more about our accounting methodology as well as our commitment and progress to reducing our carbon footprint
Improving carbon efficiency
As one means of reaching our science-based target and tracking our progress along the way, we are working to improve the carbon efficiency of making a LEGO brick. We measure carbon efficiency by tonnes of carbon emitted divided by the weight of LEGO bricks produced.
In the first half of 2021, we improved our carbon efficiency by 3.7% and made great progress in projects that aim to drive our efficiency further. These include for example launching an intelligent energy management system at our factory site in Mexico and installing solar panels at our factory sites in Hungary and China.
Reducing water consumption
While water use is very low in the production of LEGO bricks, we always strive to use it as efficiently as possible. We aim to reduce our water usage by 10% by the end of 2022.
Due to the relative increase in water consumption over the summer months, our reduction in Q2 2021 is 1.3% below our quarterly target of 5%. We expect water consumption to correct in Q3 and are on track to achieve our overall 5% 2021 reduction target.
Zero waste to landfill
Joining forces for climate action and the green transition
Building sustainable businesses together
We can’t minimize the environmental impact of our operations alone. 90% of our carbon emissions come from our supply chain - suppliers that provide and deliver raw materials, machines, products and services related to LEGO products. We collaborate closely with our suppliers to explore ways to reduce our collective carbon footprint.
In June 2021 we hosted our first Sustainability Supplier Summit, and sought support from our suppliers to set their own science-based targets.
As part of our ambition to get there, we increased the number of suppliers committed to the CDP carbon disclosure system to 93 in 2021, up from 60 in 2020. We have an ambition to have all our most carbon-intense suppliers committed to CDP in 2022 and have begun working with targeted suppliers to introduce a shift to renewable electricity.
Our journey towards our environmental sustainability goals
We are on the journey towards our 2030 goal and making progress along the way on all our environmental sustainability ambitions; materials, packaging, carbon efficiency and zero waste, by joining forces with children, our employees, experts and NGOs.
Unfold the timeline below to review our journey.