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Lego’s quest to make recycled plastic bricks has failed. Now the toymaker is turning to e-methanol

Lego’s quest to make recycled plastic bricks has failed. Now the toymaker is turning to e-methanol

Toymaker Lego has abandoned plans to make recycled plastic bricks after finding the materials would lead to higher carbon emissions.

The Danish company said on Monday it has “decided not to progress» with making its trademark colourful bricks from recycled plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate, known as PET. 

After more than two years of testing it «found the material didn’t reduce carbon emissions.”

Still, the world’s largest toymaker said that it remains committed to its quest to find sustainable materials for its Lego bricks, setting a deadline of 2032.

What sustainable alternatives is Lego exploring?

Two years ago, the privately-held group which makes its bricks out of oil-based plastic, started researching a potential transition to recycled plastic bottles made of PET plastic, which doesn’t degrade in quality when recycled.

It had invested “more than $1.2 billion [€1.13bn] in sustainability initiatives” as part of efforts to transition to more sustainable materials and reduce our carbon emissions by 37 per cent by 2032, Lego said.

The company said it was “currently testing and developing Lego bricks made from a range of alternative sustainable materials, including other recycled plastics and plastics made from alternative sources such as e-methanol.”

What is e-methanol?

Also known as green methanol, e-methanol is composed of waste carbon dioxide and hydrogen, created by using renewable energy to split water molecules.

Lego said it will continue to use bio-polypropylene, the sustainable and biological variant of polyethylene — a plastic used in everything from consumer and food packaging to tires — for parts in Lego sets such as leaves, trees and other accessories.

“We believe that in the long-term this will encourage increased production of more sustainable raw materials, such as recycled oils, and help support our transition to sustainable materials,” it said.

Lego was founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen. The name derived from the two Danish words, leg and godt, which together mean ‘play well’. The brand name was created unaware that lego in Latin means ‘I assemble’.

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