Brick battle: LEGO looking to replace ABS material for sustainable alternative

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An iconic toy and tool for almost every product designer, LEGO is facing a materials conundrum in its quest to become more sustainable.

As the Danish company strives to increase its eco credentials before 2030, it faces a design and manufacturing issue kicking its annual 4,200 ton ABS habit – finding a material that gives the standard LEGO ‘clutch’ without warping over time; that will seamlessly fits with all its existing products, and which meets the standards written within 3,082 pages worth of legislation for toys.

Lego has to carefully track colour controls, so that a brick moulded today will exactly match one from its past or from the future, yet this could be in jeopardy if the machinery being used to pump out the blocks of joy has to be replaced to work with a new resin (it would also be rather pricey).
The search is in its early stages, but LEGO is already testing new bricks using an impact modified polylactic acid, which is close to ABS, but due to some issues with how the machinery is set up for ABS, are losing their ‘clutch power’.

Operating 5,000 moulds on more than 1,000 injection moulding presses in factories in Denmark, Mexico and Hungary it will also require a global material supplier for all those locations once it is ready to change its resin.

We found out firsthand what goes into the design process at LEGO, read about it here.


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