|You can now get rid of those old Lego bricks sitting inside your closet without feeling guilty about it / Photo by: Alan Chia via Wikimedia Commons|
You can now get rid of those old Lego bricks sitting inside your closet without feeling guilty about it. As part of its ongoing effort to transform into a greener toy company, The Lego Group has launched a pilot initiative that encourages people to donate their used Lego bricks. The Lego Replay program will make it easier to give away those unwanted brick toys by providing donors with free shipping. Lego will also handle the cleaning, sorting, and delivery of the toy sets to classrooms and after-school programs for kids.
An Earth-Friendly Initiative
Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at The Lego Group, said the program came after people asked the company about a safe way to get rid of their bricks. Brooks said Lego Replay is not only a sustainable option but it also leaves a social impact.
"We know people don't throw away their Lego bricks," he said, according to tech news site CNET. "But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks. With Lego Replay, they have an easy option that's both sustainable and socially impactful."
|Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at The Lego Group, said the program came after people asked the company about a safe way to get rid of their bricks / Photo by: Eric Lumsden via Flickr|
The program designated the Teach For America charity to receive the Lego toys, which will be delivered to classrooms across the country. Others will be sent to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston for their after-school programs.
It took three years before the company launched Lego Replay, Brooks said, because they wanted to ensure that the program had the right partners and controls secured in place.
"We wanted to maintain the quality and safety that Lego is known for even in a used product," he said.
Lego Replay is currently being tested in the US and the organizations will receive the first shipments in November. The program will run until the spring of next year and, if proven to be a success, may also expand to other countries.
A Greener Toy Company
Many people want to donate their Lego bricks but are reluctant to do so because they don't want the company to "grind them up and make outdoor furniture or something else from them" no matter how much they don't want to see unwanted bricks go unused, Brooks said.
Old Lego bricks are usually handed over to children, grandchildren, or neighborhood groups. But the Lego executive said they still receive a significant amount of letters and emails from people asking how they can recycle or donate their old sets.
This led to the development of the Lego Replay, which is only one of the many programs the toy company has promised as it pushes to become a greener toymaker.
Millennial parents expressed that they want toy companies to put environmental responsibility as a top priority—and these firms were quick to address these concerns with their own actions. Lego, along with Hasbro and Mattel, has pledged to reduce their packaging and environmental impact.
According to business magazine Forbes, Lego promised to only use sustainable materials in making all its products—including the plastic bricks—by 2030. It added that it won't be easy to find an alternative for petroleum-based plastic that the company has been using to make its bricks.
"It needs to come up with a sustainable substitute that matches the current formula’s durability and can accommodate the precision molding needed to produce bricks that snap together easily and stay connected," Forbes explained.
|Millennial parents expressed that they want toy companies to put environmental responsibility as a top priority—and these firms were quick to address these concerns with their own actions / Photo by: InSapphoWeTrust via Wikimedia Commons|
A Solid Step Forward
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges the Earth is facing now. Companies like Lego are called on to adopt a more sustainable means of making their products (which they also have to make more sustainable).
Aside from the Replay program, the toy company has also released brick pieces made of more sustainable bio-based plastics. It said its manufacturing process is now running on 100 percent renewable energy, reported Wired, a monthly American magazine that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics.
It noted that while not all of Lego's facility is entirely renewable, its parent company, Kirkbi, invested enough renewable energy to cancel out the outflow.
The company's sustainability goals are still far off, but its current initiatives are a solid step forward. This is especially true for the Replay program, which highlights the initial intention of Lego bricks being a toy that can be used over and over again.
"I think plastic is a great material," Brooks said. "It lasts a long time; it can be made into lots of shapes. It's all about how it's used. Lego bricks are a great use of plastic."
Shelie Miller, a professor of sustainable systems and director of the environmental program at the University of Michigan, agreed with Brooks and said that Legos are indeed a "good sustainable design choice" from a design perspective.
How couldn't it be? Legos are interchangeable, durable, and even the ones made from 30 years ago can still be used with the ones made today. And with the company's new initiative, it will take a long time before the toy bricks will go back to being untouched.