LEGO invests $150M in search for sustainable materials

LEGO may be fun and educational, but more environment-conscious consumers might take issue with what is being sacrificed to get to that point. LEGO has no delusions that the very materials that make up its iconic blocks and pieces, not to mention their packaging, do their own share of harming the environment. That is why the LEGO Group is stepping up its efforts to change that image by not only investing a huge some of money for R&D but also establishing its new Sustainable Materials Centre.

LEGO aims to inspire creativity and nurture the builders of the future yet, at the same time, those very tools are threatening the sustainability of that future. The irony is not lost on the company, who has taken steps to mitigate its impact on the environment. It started by reducing and changing its packaging and has invested in wind farms. But those are dwarfed by the real and bigger problem: LEGO's materials.

The task of finding sustainable materials to replace its current ones will be handled by the LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre, which will be established sometime between 2015 and 2016 and will have its base in LEGO HQ in Billund, Denmark. As much as 100 employees are expected to run operations, which could have satellite offices around the world. Their task is singular yet also daunting: to find, research, and develop sustainable materials that will make up the next generation of LEGO toys.

One of the problems with their quest is that there is no clear cut definition of what a sustainable material is in the first place. Some only consider the source of the material, others its chemical makeup. And still others are more concerned with what happens to the materials when they reach their end of life. Nevermind checking all three at once. LEGO, with a bit of help from organizations like WWF, hopes to find the answers before its self-imposed 2030 deadline.