LEGO Group Investing USD $400 Million for Sustainability: New Paper Bags for LEGO Sets

The LEGO Group is planning to invest up to USD $400 million over three years to achieve sustainability and social responsibility objectives. This includes phasing out plastic bags containing LEGO pieces in LEGO sets. The new sets would contain paper bags instead. The goal is to achieve this by 2025. See below for the full press release.

– Next step is to begin to phase out single-use plastic bags from LEGO® boxes in latest move to make all packaging sustainable by 2025.
– Further investments will also be made in creating more sustainable products, achieving zero waste & carbon neutral operations, circularity and inspiring children to learn about sustainability through play.


BILLUND, September 15th, 2020: The LEGO Group today announced plans to invest up to US$400 million over three years to accelerate sustainability and social responsibility initiatives. The investment will cover both long-term investments and ongoing costs. The company, which has made a series of moves over the past 10 years to build a better planet for future generations, believes it’s increasingly urgent and important to prioritise environmental and social activity.

The LEGO Group CEO, Niels B Christiansen said: “We cannot lose sight of the fundamental challenges facing future generations. It’s critical we take urgent action now to care for the planet and future generations. As a company who looks to children as our role models, we are inspired by the millions of kids who have called for more urgent action on climate change. We believe they should have access to opportunities to develop the skills necessary to create a sustainable future. We will step up our efforts to use our resources, networks, expertise and platforms to make a positive difference.”

As a next step, the company will begin to phase out single-use plastic bags used in LEGO boxes to package the loose bricks. This is part of its ambition to make all its packaging sustainable by the end of 2025. From 2021, Forest Stewardship Council-certified recyclable paper bags will be trialled in boxes.

Christiansen said: “We have received many letters from children about the environment asking us to remove single-use plastic packaging. We have been exploring alternatives for some time and the passion and ideas from children inspired us to begin to make the change.”

Moving away from the existing packaging is not a simple task and will take time as new material must be durable, light weight and enhance the building experience. Several prototypes made from a range of different sustainable materials have so far been tested with hundreds of parents and children. Children liked the paper bags being trialled in 2021 as they were environmentally friendly and easy to open.

Long-term investment in building a sustainable future

In addition to developing and implementing sustainable materials, the up to US$400million investment will also focus on a range of social and environmentally focussed actions to inspire children through learning through play, making the business more circular, and achieving carbon neutral operations. The activity will drive meaningful, long-term change aligned to two United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: #4 Quality Education and #12 Responsible Consumption and Production:

Children

By 2022, the LEGO Group aims to reach 8 million children around the world annually with learning through play through a range of activities with partners, in collaboration with the LEGO Foundation. It will build on its work with organisations such as UNICEF, Save the Children and local partners to scale up programmes that give children-in-need access to play and opportunities to develop life-long skills such as problem solving, collaboration and communication. In 2019, 1.8 million children were reached through such programmes. 25% of profits from the LEGO Group go to funding the LEGO Foundation’s projects, activities and partnerships.

Circularity

The LEGO System in Play inspires endless play possibilities that supports the principles of circular design – a product made of quality materials that can be used and reused. The quality, durability, safety and consistency of LEGO bricks mean they can be passed from generation to generation. Bricks made today, fit those made more than 40 years ago.

Programmes will be put in place to encourage people to donate their pre-loved bricks to children in need of play. LEGO Replay, which was successfully trialled in the United States in 2019, will be rolled out in two additional countries by the end of 2022. So far, LEGO Replay has donated bricks to over 23,000 children across the United States(1).

Sustainable Materials

Work will continue on the company’s Sustainable Materials Programme, which employs more than 150 experts, to create sustainable products and packaging. In 2015, the Group set a target to make its products from sustainable materials by 2030. It will expand its use of bio-bricks, such as those made from sugar cane, which currently account for almost 2% of its element portfolio.

It will continue research into new, more sustainable plastics from renewable and recycled sources, and join forces with research institutes and other companies especially those developing new recycling and bio-based material production technologies to find materials which are as durable and high quality as those used today(2).

The planned investments include both costs associated with the development of new sustainable materials and the investments in manufacturing equipment.

Zero Waste & Carbon Neutral Operations

The Group’s manufacturing operations will be carbon neutral by 2022. To achieve this, additional solar panels will be installed on all its factories and onsite capacity will be supplemented with the procurement of renewable energy. Further investments will be made to improve energy usage, for example by installing new systems that use ambient air in cooling processes during LEGO brick production.

Improved waste handling and reduction in water consumption will further reduce the Group’s operational impact on the environment. No waste will be diverted to landfill by 2025 and water use will drop by 10% by 2022(3).

Joining forces to have a positive impact

The LEGO Group will continue to work with organisations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, World Wild Fund for Nature, RE100, UNICEF and Save the Children in order to create the greatest impact.

Christiansen said: “At a time when the world is facing numerous challenges, companies must take action to create a lasting positive impact on the environment and society. No one can do it alone. I urge companies, governments, parents, children and NGOs to continue to join forces to create a sustainable future for our children, the builders of tomorrow.”

More information about the LEGO Group’s Sustainability Commitments

Over three years, the LEGO Group will work to achieve the following targets through a range of existing and new initiatives.

Children

  • 8 million children annually will be reached through global and local community programmes in 27 different countries(4). These will focus on bringing play to children to help them develop life-long skills and learn about sustainability. These will include new and existing programmes, such as Build the Change, Build to Give, RE:CODE and community initiatives supported by employee volunteers.
  • 2 million parents and caregivers will be reached by the end of 2022 through programmes designed to educate them about the life-long benefits of play.
  • Continue to set the standard for responsible engagement with children, with a focus on online engagement – protecting their rights and wellbeing across all of the LEGO Group’s digital experiences; whether that be teaching children about staying safe online with our digital safety superhero Captain Safety, providing safe-by-design digital experiences like the social media network for children LEGO Life, or continuing to partner with UNICEF to develop industry-leading standards and policies for child safeguarding and digital child safety while inspiring other businesses to do the same.
  • Millions of parents and children will be reached as part of an ongoing Digital Citizenship & Wellbeing programme aimed at empowering children and giving them the skills to be responsible digital citizens. The latest campaign, Small Builds for Big Conversations, aimed at engaging and supporting parents to talk to their children about digital safety has so far reached more than 20 million adults.

Environment

  • Carbon neutral manufacturing operations by the end of 2022 and continuing to be 100% balanced by renewable energy in all territories in which we operate. This will involve investing in efficiency measures to lower energy use and carbon emission output per LEGO brick produced.
  • Launch LEGO Replay in two more countries by the end of 2022. The LEGO Group will also work with the Ellen Macarthur Foundation network as part of efforts to design more circular products and packaging.
  • No waste to reach landfill by end of 2025. This will be achieved by reducing the waste produced as part of the LEGO Group’s manufacturing operations. The LEGO Group sends 93% of all factory waste to be recycled, including 100% of plastic waste from our moulding machines, some of which is reused in our own manufacturing(5).
  • 2025 ambition to make all packaging 100% sustainable, including removing single-use plastic in all our products, packaging and operations. This will include banning single-use plastic from all offices, factories and stores.
  • 2030 ambition to have all products made from sustainable materials.

People & Communities

  • Continued responsible sourcing programme grounded in the LEGO Group’s Responsible Business Principles, which protects the rights and wellbeing of anyone involved in the production of LEGO products, including the children of workers.
  • Ongoing focus on making LEGO Group workplaces inclusive, safe and motivating for colleagues.
  • Continued support for children and communities impacted by societal struggles and global crises. In 2020 the LEGO Group joined forces with the LEGO Foundation to donate US $50m to support children whose wellbeing and development became impacted by COVID-19(6). The Group donated an additional US$4m to organisations dedicated to supporting black children and educating all children about racial equality, to demonstrate its support with the black community against racism and inequality.


  1. Since October 2019
  2. Partners include University of Budapest, University of Amsterdam, Aarhus University and consortia including Bio-speed (consortium consisting of Danone, L’Oréal, Michelin, Bic and Faurecia as well as the LEGO Group)
  3. Tracked against 2019 usage
  4. The LEGO Group reached 1.8 million children with local community engagement programmes in 2019.
  5. Full year 2019 data
  6. More information here.

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