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LEGO Unveils First-Ever Recycled Plastic Brick—Here’s Why It Took This Long


Image via LEGO Group

This week, the LEGO Group unveiled its latest prototype – a LEGO brick made from recycled plastic. This marks the latest breakthrough in the brickmaker’s journey to making its products more sustainable.

The new prototype is made out of PET plastic from discarded bottles, and is officially the first-ever brick made from recycled materials to meet LEGO’s strict quality and safety standards.

As the recycled brick is still in the development stage, it will probably take years before making an appearance in any of the brand’s official sets. Though with so many products already being made of sustainable materials, how did a global brand take so long to create its first recycled brick?

Well, it turns out making sustainable LEGO bricks has been quite the journey, according to Gizmodo, and that is largely because of something called “clutch power.”

In 2018, LEGO revealed the results of its initial efforts in becoming more eco-friendly. The brand created polyethylene plastic pieces constructed from sugarcane waste-derived ethanol. However, this sugarcane material was significantly softer than the rigid plastic LEGO uses for its bricks, and was only able to be used to craft pieces such as plants and trees, which are semi-flexible.

The brand had created polyethylene plastic pieces created from ethanol derived from sugarcane waste. However, this sugarcane material was significantly softer than the rigid plastic LEGO uses for its bricks, and was only able to be used to craft pieces such as plants and trees, which are semi-flexible.

The road to creating a recycled brick that met the same rigidity and durability of LEGO’s original pieces wasn’t easy. Firstly, the bricks’ ability to adhere together when stacked, known as clutch power, comes from both the studs and hollows on each brick, as well as their oil-based plastic material itself.

Finally, the brand has now unveiled the first-ever brick that adheres to its strict standards. The prototype brick took over three years of research and development to make, with tests of over 250 formulations of polyethylene terephthalate plastic (PET).

The PET was obtained from discarded and recycled plastic bottles, mixed with LEGO’s secret “strengthening additives” so the final result is strong enough to hold sufficient clutch power.”

Although the prototype unveiling is definitely a breakthrough in the brand’s long process of creating the perfect sustainable brick, LEGO has said it will continue conducting tests for at least an additional year before the brick can head to mass production. As of now, a one-liter plastic PET bottle provides enough material to craft ten 2×4 bricks.

While LEGO is taking a step in the right direction by turning to sustainable materials, the world-renowned toymaker is ensuring its quality isn’t compromised before recycled bricks become the default.


Image via LEGO Group


Image via LEGO Group

Click to view enlarged version

Click to view enlarged version. Image via LEGO Group

[via Gizmodo, images via LEGO Group]

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