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Lego's attempt to ditch oil-based bricks is a costly failure; 'sustainable' alternative would have created higher emissions: Report
Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Lego's attempt to ditch oil-based bricks is a costly failure; 'sustainable' alternative would have created higher emissions: Report

Fossil fuels keep people around the world clothed , fed , mobile, housed, entertained, and comfortable. Despite the extensive utility of oil and gas, there is a concerted effort in the West to instead drive reliance upon resources of dubious environmental benefit. This endeavor has been long pursued by governments and companies alike, sometimes at great cost .

The Danish toy company Lego, among the organizations that vowed to cut down on oil usage, has recently discovered that transitioning is not as clean or as easy as it looks on paper.

Lego, like other large woke corporations, is captive to ESG goals , claiming on its website to be playing a "part in building a sustainable future and creating a better world for children to inherit."

The company indicated in 2018 that it had set a target to swap the oil-based plastics it uses in the 110-120 billion pieces it produces every year for sustainable materials by 2030. This would mean that the 4.4 lbs of petroleum required for each 2.2 lbs of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic granules — used to make up to 85% of the company's bricks — would need to be replaced.

"Everything about them is plastic," said Sharon George, a senior lecturer in environmental sustainability at Britain's Keele University. "It's certainly not an easy challenge for them. But I really hope that Lego can do something innovative because if anybody can they can, thanks to their prices."

Tim Brooks, Lego’s head of sustainability, told the Financial Times at the time, "We are making a toy for children. ... We can't make a toy that harms their future. If we are not doing a good job on the environment, then we have short-changed them."

In 2021, the company indicated it had found a winning alternative: older oil-based plastics in the form of recycled drink bottles. Lego's reliance on such a recycled supply would demand the continued primary manufacture of oil-based bottles for their expensive bricks.

The company has since blown $1.2 billion on "sustainability initiatives" only to discover that secondhand plastics weren't all they were cracked up to be.

Niels Christiansen, the CEO of Lego, told the Financial Times Sunday that the use of recycled polyethylene terephthalate would have led to the creation of higher carbon emissions.

"In order to scale production [of recycled PET], the level of disruption to the manufacturing environment was such that we needed to change everything in our factories. After all that, the carbon footprint would have been higher. It was disappointing," said Brooks.

Christiansen admitted that the company's search to "find this magic material or this new material" that could replace oil-based plastics while still affording Lego bricks comparable "clutch power" and durability has come up wanting.

"We tested hundreds and hundreds of materials," said the Lego CEO. "It's just not been possible to find a material like that."

While defeated and decided against adopting recycled plastic as the stuff of its bricks, Lego has attempted to give hope to climate alarmists and fans of its oil-based pro-renewables wind turbine kit .

The Times indicated that Lego will kick the can farther down the road such that by 2032 it hopes both to be using only so-called sustainable materials and to see a 37% reduction in emissions compared to 2019.

The BBC reported that as of 2021, the company was emitting roughly 1,322,773 tons of carbon a year. By way of comparison, the average American emits roughly 17.85 tons a year.

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