The LEGO Group has announced plans to invest up to $400 million over three years to build on the company’s sustainability and social responsibility initiatives.
The investment will cover both long-term investments and ongoing costs.
The LEGO Group CEO, Niels B Christiansen, commented on the announcement: “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.
Mr Christiansen continued: “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.
In addition to developing and implementing sustainable materials, the up to $400m investment will also focus on a range of social and environmentally focused 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.
Work will also continue in the company’s Sustainable Materials Programme, which employs more than 150 experts, to create sustainable products and packaging.
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.
In 2015, the Group set a target to make its products from sustainable materials by 2030.
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.
The planned investments include both costs associated with the development of new sustainable materials and the investments in manufacturing equipment.
The Group has announced that their 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.
According to the company, no waste will be diverted to landfill by 2025 and water use will drop by 10% by 2022.
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 to ‘create the greatest impact.’
Since LEGO’s products have remained largely unchanged (bricks made today fit those made more than 40 years ago, according to LEGO), the company is putting new programs in place to encourage people to donate their used bricks to children in need.
The LEGO Replay initiative was piloted in the US in 2019, and will be rolled out in two additional unnamed countries by the end of 2022.
Mr Christiansen added: “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.”