We strive to have a positive impact on society and the planet, which our children will inherit, and it is this focus on future generations that drives our work. We believe we have a responsibility to minimise the environmental impact of our operations.
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Recycled materialsIn 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 of three years’ hard work from a team of more than 150 experts who have tested over 250 variations of PET materials. We continue to work on making progress towards our 2030 ambition of making our products from more sustainable sources.
Bio-based materialsWe continue to expand the range of bio-based LEGO® elements made from Brazilian sugarcane to create bio-polyethylene (bio-PE), a soft, durable, and flexible plastic. There are currently more than 150 elements made from bio-PE, which are found in almost 50% of our products. While the soft and flexible characteristics of this material only makes it a suitable substitute for a smaller group of LEGO elements (e.g. for LEGO® plant elements and minifigure accessories), we aim to increase the number of bio-PE elements over the next few years. We also make sure that the sugarcane used to make these elements grows at the same rate as we use it, is sourced sustainably using guidance from our partner WWF and doesn’t compromise food security.
Bags in LEGO® boxes
Baseplate packagingOur baseplates are now wrapped in paper-based packaging made with paper from Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC-C117818) certified forests and FSC controlled wood. Starting from 1HY 2022, the new baseplate packaging is gradually replacing single-use plastic wrappers at retail stores worldwide.
E-commerce packagingWe are changing the way we pack our LEGO® sets for shipping. We are removing single-use disposable plastic, such as the air pillows that protect LEGO boxes and the plastic tape that seals the boxes, to reduce packaging waste and improve recyclability. For example, people ordering from LEGO.com in Europe will receive a shipping package that uses recyclable paper padding certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC-C117818) along with paper-based tape.
Inspired by circularity
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. We’re currently exploring how circularity can be embedded across our value chain, from using circular design and materials and eliminating waste to keeping LEGO products in play longer. As part of these efforts, we became a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) in 2020.
With EMF, we have hosted an online workshop on circularity for 13- to 18-year-olds, as well as multiple workshops during COP26 in Glasgow – all based on Learning through Play and our Build the Change series. Our own Circular Economy and Youth study, conducted in 2021 with over 6,000 children aged 8 to 18, shows that children care deeply about the planet, but find it difficult to relate to circularity.
In 2022, we will work to amplify the findings of the study in a call to policymakers to elevate circular economy in school curriculums and help give children a voice on the issues that matter to them.
Since the launch of LEGO® Replay in 2019 in the U.S., and in 2020 in Canada, over 720,000 lbs (326,586 kg) of LEGO bricks have been donated, resulting in 168,810 children playing with LEGO Replay bricks. We know that 97% of LEGO owners keep or hand down bricks from one generation to the next, and with LEGO Replay, we want to inspire and help LEGO brick owners pass along the bricks they aren’t using – keeping LEGO bricks in play and circulation.
To expand the reach of LEGO Replay in North America, we continued our partnership with First Book in the U.S., donating over 18,000 playboxes to classrooms which reached over 44,000 children. In Canada, we partner with Right to Play, an organisation that works to protect, educate, and empower children in Canada’s Indigenous Communities to rise above the challenges of violence, exploitation and inequality and find their way back to hope. We’ve been providing LEGO Replay bricks to support dislocated families and children from emergency situations. In addition, we partnered with the Circular Innovation Council of Canada to help drive education of the circular economy with children.
Reducing our CO2 impact
We continue to be 100% balanced by renewable energy, due to investments in offshore wind by our parent company KIRKBI A/S and investments in onsite renewable energy by the LEGO Group. For example, last year we increased our solar panel capacity by 98% (compared to 2020) across our factories in China, Hungary, and Mexico.
We define ‘balanced by renewable energy’ as: energy generated from renewable sources, either on or offsite, as being equal to, or more than the energy we use at our locations. We purchase and retire all available Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from our renewable energy investments and supplement these with accredited RECs when those investments are not available.
Total carbon emissions
Science-based CO2 target
In December 2020, we were the first large toy company to announce a science-based target, which commits us to reducing our absolute carbon emissions by 37% by 2032 compared to our 2019 baseline. The target has been approved by the Science Based Target initiative as consistent with levels required to keep global warming below 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.
One of the ways we are looking to reduce emissions is by introducing processes that will help the business make more sustainable investments decisions. In 2022, we introduced a new sustainability tool to our financial decision-making process, a shadow carbon price, which will encourage investment towards zero- and low-carbon projects in our operations.
A shadow carbon price places a monetary value on carbon emissions linked to projects we are considering. By including a climate cost in our financial assessments, we can understand the climate impact of possible investments and what the most sustainable options are.
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 in our operations by tonnes of carbon emitted from our factories divided by the weight of LEGO bricks produced.
In the first half of 2022, from January through June, we improved our carbon efficiency by 14% to 0.92 tCO2e/tonnes of LEGO bricks, compared to the end of 2021. We’re making great progress on projects that aim to drive our efficiency further, such as our intelligent energy management system at our factory site in Mexico.
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 increase our water efficiency by 10% by the end of 2022 compared to a 2019 baseline.
Our water consumption has increased by 15% since 2019, however, during this period our brick production also increased by 47%. This means we are currently on track to meet our 10% target, with efficiency gains at 22%. We will continue our goal of increasing efficiencies through further investments in new technology in both new and existing sites, which means we still expect to see further improvements in the years to come.
Building carbon-neutral run factories
Zero waste to landfill
We are aiming for zero waste to landfill, which means that no waste from any LEGO® factory, office or owned and operated store will be landfilled by 2025. We remain committed to removing as much single-use plastic in our operations as possible by the end of 2022.
During 2021, we reduced our landfilled waste by 70% in our factories compared to 2020, with 115 tonnes of waste going to landfill in 2021. This moves us closer to our 2025 target. We continue to recycle above 90% of all factory waste, including 100% of the plastic waste from our moulding machines.
Each year, our Operations team hosts a Zero Impact Week where we highlight and celebrate the efforts being done in our factories to contribute on our zero impact journey. It’s all about showing local initiatives, sharing best practices and key learnings at our factory sites – from cardboard recycling initiatives to piloting waterless cooling systems and giving new life to the plastic waste generated from the LEGO brick making process.
Building sustainable businesses together
Our journey towards our environmental sustainability goals
By joining forces with children, our employees, experts and NGOs, we are making important progress towards our environmental sustainability ambitions and continue to build initiatives and partnerships.
Unfold the timeline below to review our journey and recent developments.