BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 26 June '15

LEGO Group to invest 1bn DKK in finding sustainable alternatives to its current materials

The LEGO Group has announced it will invest 1 billion Danish Krone (£95.4m) in a LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre.

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A new focus

The company expects to recruit over 100 new specialists to research, develop and implement new, sustainable, raw materials to manufacture LEGO products and packaging materials.

‘This is a major step for the LEGO Group on our way towards achieving our 2030 ambition on sustainable materials.

‘We have already taken important steps to reduce our carbon footprint and leave a positive impact on the planet by reducing the packaging size, by introducing FSC certified packaging and through our investment in an offshore wind farm. Now we are accelerating our focus on materials.’

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the LEGO Group

Sustainable Materials Centre

The centre will be based at the LEGO Group’s headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and will be the new home for all employees who are already working on finding alternative materials.

In addition, the LEGO Group expects to recruit more than 100 specialists from within the materials field over the coming years.

‘Only the best is good enough’

The LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre will be set up during 2015 and 2016, and will hopefully include satellite functions located in relevant locations around the globe. The centre will also collaborate and develop partnerships with relevant external stakeholders and experts.

‘Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We believe that our main contribution to this is through the creative play experiences we provide to children.

‘The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit. It is certainly in line with the mission of the LEGO Group and in line with the motto of my grandfather and founder of the LEGO Group, Ole Kirk Kristiansen: Only the best is good enough.’

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, LEGO Group owner

Alternatives by 2030

The decision to boost the search for sustainable materials was taken at the recent General Assembly of the LEGO Group in May 2015.

In 2012, the LEGO Group first shared its ambition to find and implement sustainable alternatives to the current raw materials used to manufacture LEGO products by 2030.

The ambition is part of the LEGO Group’s work to reduce its environmental footprint and leave a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit.

60bn new bricks

In 2014 more than 60 billion LEGO elements were made; finding alternatives to the materials used to make these bricks would significantly reduce the LEGO Group’s impact on the planet.

‘The testing and research we have already done has given us greater visibility of the challenges we face to succeed on this agenda and we respond by adding significant resources in order to be ready to move into the next phase of finding and implementing the sustainable materials.

‘I am truly excited by the full commitment of the Board of Directors and our owner family to significantly boost the work to ensure a lasting positive impact.’

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the LEGO Group

Building a better tomorrow

When the LEGO Group is ready to introduce new materials, it must make sure the quality and safety standards set by the LEGO Group and expected by parents aren’t compromised.

The company has said it will continue to seek extensive research and robust data to ensure that all aspects of safety and quality are considered.

‘This is paramount to us as it enables us to provide children with a unique play experience that inspires and develops them and enables them to build a better tomorrow. This is ultimately the reason for our continued efforts to always do better.’

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the LEGO Group

Collaborating with WWF

In recent years, the LEGO Group has collaborated with companies and experts on the task of finding more sustainable materials and these relationships will continue with existing as well as new partners with expertise in the field.

An example is the Climate Savers partnership between the LEGO Group and WWF that was signed in 2013, which contains targets to develop a sustainable materials strategy.

A new collaboration with WWF was agreed in spring 2015 and focuses on better assessing the overall sustainability and environmental impact of new bio-based materials for LEGO products and packaging.

Defining a ‘sustainable material’

The LEGO Group has stated that a new sustainable material must have a lighter footprint than the material it replaces across key environmental and social impact areas, such as fossil resource use, human rights and climate change.

‘There is no common definition of a sustainable material. Several factors influence the environmental sustainability of a material – the composition of the material, how it is sourced and what happens when the product reaches the end of its life. When we search for new materials all of these factors must be considered.

‘What we announce today is a long-term investment and a dedication to ensuring the continued research and development of new materials that will enable us to continue to deliver great, high quality creative play experiences in the future, while caring for the environment and future generations. It is a daunting and exciting challenge.’

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the LEGO Group

Click here to find out more about LEGO joining WWF’s Climate Savers Programme.