Lego Group has developed a toy brick made from recycled drinks bottles but it will be “some time” before the sustainable bricks are sold to the public.
The toymaker unveiled its first prototype of a sustainable building block on Wednesday afternoon but said it wants to continue testing and developing plastic formulation before assessing whether to move to the pilot production.
The new prototype is the first made from recycled materials to meet its quality and safety requirements, the Danish family owned company said.
A 150-strong team working on sustainable solutions had developed the brick using recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic from old bottles sourced from suppliers in the US and European Union that use regulated food safety authority approved processes “to ensure quality”.
On average, Lego said a one-litre plastic PET bottle provides enough raw material for ten of its rectangular 2 x 4 bricks beloved of junior bricklayers.
As well as the safety and quality concerns, durability is high up on Lego’s priorities for the bricks, with the company saying the prototype is based on a patent-pending material formulation that makes the reconstituted plastic strong enough for Lego bricks.
The process uses a new compounding technology that combines the recycled PET with “strengthening additives”.
Many Lego sets use bio-polyethylene made from sustainably sourced sugarcane for smaller and softer pieces such as trees, branches and accessories for its minifigures, but this material is not hard enough for bricks.