Lego goes green with 'sustainable' plant-based plastic

Lego goes green with 'sustainable' plant-based plastic

Danish toymaker Lego has announced it will start making several of its products from plant-based plastic this year in a bid to tackle waste and environmental damage.

But the change is only going to affect 1-2 per cent of the total amount of plastic elements it manufactures.

We've pulled apart the pieces of the story.

Is this actually good for the environment?

Lego's new "sustainable" pieces will be made from polyethylene, a type of plastic that comes from the ethanol made by sugar cane.

The company said the polyethylene would replace the materials it sourced from fossil fuels.

It has also partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to ensure the material is sourced sustainably.

Polyethylene, also known as a bio-based plastic, can be made from renewable sources such as sugar or wheat crops.

But the plastic is non-biodegradable, meaning it does not break down.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), eight million tonnes of plastic bottles, packaging and other waste are dumped into the ocean every year.

This plastic is known to injure and kill marine life, and enter the human food chain.

What pieces are going green?

Lego's polyethylene pieces will make up 1-2 per cent of the total amount of the plastic elements it produces.

It will cover the company's botanical pieces such as leaves, bushes and trees.

Lego reportedly makes more than 19 billion elements every year.

Corporate responsibility vice president, Tim Brooks, said the change was a great "first step" in making all Lego bricks from sustainable material.

The company has set a goal to use sustainable materials in core products and packaging by 2030.

In June 2015, Lego announced it was investing 1 billion Danish kroner ($213 million) to identify and implement sustainable material and packaging solutions.

Is this going to change the bricks?

No. While the source of the plastic is different, people should not be able to detect any changes in the product.

"Children and parents will not notice any difference in the quality or appearance of the new elements, because plant-based polyethylene has the same properties as conventional polyethylene," Mr Brooks said.

ABC/Reuters