‘Incredible achievement’ | LEGO reveals the challenges overcome in sustainable packaging transition

‘Incredible achievement’ | LEGO reveals the challenges overcome in sustainable packaging transition

The LEGO Group has detailed the challenges its engineers and designers have had to surmount to roll out more sustainable packaging solutions and transition from single-use plastic to paper-based materials.

LEGO aims to make all its packaging from more sustainable materials by 2025. Currently, 93% of packaging by weight is made from paper, cardboard, and other paper-based materials, making the majority of LEGO packaging recyclable.

The rollout of new paper-based bags, which are verified as recyclable in the European Union, United States, and Canada, started in Europe and Asia this year and will continue into 2024 when the rollout will start across America.

“The transition to paper-based bags is a significant milestone in the LEGO Group’s sustainable materials journey,” said Tim Brooks, VP of Environmental Responsibility at the LEGO Group.

“Phasing out single-use plastic from our products has been very important to us as this material is rarely recycled, unlike paper-based bags. We committed to doing this three years ago and have faced a number of technical challenges to find a bag that would not compromise the high standards LEGO fans expect from us.

“It’s been a true team effort to arrive at this exciting moment and we’re very proud to see the paper-based bag rollout gain real momentum.”

Work to transition from single-use plastic to paper-based materials began in 2022 but engineers and designers were faced with a number of challenges to overcome along the journey. Pre-pack bags are important as they are used to package together loose bricks and are printed with numbers to indicate sequence, so the bags must not tear during shipping.

The paper also needs to be able to withstand the manufacturing process in all LEGO factories and since paper is more sensitive than plastic to changes in humidity and weather, it has been an important part of the LEGO journey to find a bag that can be made and used in all its factories in all climates.

Around 70 different papers and formats were tested in the quest to get the new bags right. The team’s work is now rolling off production lines at factories in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and China.

“More than 350 LEGO colleagues came together to solve this important challenge and what they have achieved is incredible,” continued Tim. “It has not been easy to balance the importance of the building experience, the quality of the product, and the engineering and production challenges with the urgent need to be more sustainable.

“We look forward to hearing what our fans think when they open their fist paper-based pre-pack bag.”

Meanwhile, Pick & Build walls in LEGO Retail Stores will also offer paper-based containers as flat-pack while quick assembly cardboard boxes are replacing plastic cups. The new format is being phased in across European and North American markets during the remainder of 2023 with South American and Asian markets to follow in 2024.

Similarly, the packaging for all LEGO Minifigures collectables has been switched from single-use plastic to recyclable cardboard boxes. The global rollout of the new boxes began in August and will help the LEGO Group save around 30 tonnes of single-use plastic a year.

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