Over the next few years, select Lego pieces will start being made with plant-derived materials as part of the company's pledge to create more sustainable products. Parts resembling leaves, bushes and trees will be made from a polyethylene created with ethanol made from sugarcane. And while these only make up between 1 and 2 percent of all the pieces Lego makes, it's "a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all Lego bricks using sustainable materials," Lego VP of environmental responsibility Tim Brooks said on its website. These 'green' pieces will be released in sets starting this year.
Give your biggest "green" to the very FIRST #sustainable LEGO Bricks! LEGO botanical elements including leaves and trees will now be made from sugarcane-based plastic.The first "greens" are to appear in LEGO sets later this year. Sweeet🌿#PlantsfromPlants https://t.co/rZKijykjYO pic.twitter.com/yraEOLq5NM— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) March 1, 2018
It's part of the company's pledge to transition to using sustainable materials in Lego products and packaging by 2030. Creating plastic parts from sugarcane -- called 'bioplastics' -- isn't a perfect solution, as that crop still requires a lot of farmland, and growing more could cut into land allocated for food production. Further, the historical demand for sugarcane has degraded tropical forests and coastal wetlands; More demand could lead to further deforestation.
Changing the Lego recipe from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (based on crude oil) to a plant-sourced plastic is certainly a more sustainable choice. And though sugarcane isn't a perfect source for bioplastics, it's a first step toward making your favorite building toys (and future domestic caltrops) a little greener.