LEGO has served as the literal building block for generations of children’s toys. The company is currently using a plastic resin, known as ABS, so it’s no surprise that LEGO has faced its fair share of environmental concerns. Because of this, LEGO announced that last year they were committed to moving towards fully sustainable bricks by the year 2030, through using plant-based polythene plastics.
Consumers worldwide have voiced growing alarm about the impact of plastic waste on the environment, and increasing numbers of companies are trying to use packaging materials that are recyclable or otherwise less polluting. Coca-Cola, for instance, plans to collect and recycle the equivalent of all the bottles and cans it uses by 2030. Unilever, the consumer goods giant, says all its plastic packaging will be recyclable or compostable by 2025. Others, like McDonald’s and Starbucks, are doing away with plastic straws in their outlets.
The challenge is designing blocks that click together yet separate easily, retain bright colors, and survive the rigors of being put through a laundry load, or the weight of an unknowing parent’s foot. In essence, the company wants to switch the ingredients, but keep the product exactly the same.
Lego faces a more complex problem than other consumer businesses, though — for this Danish company, plastics are not the packaging, they are the product.
Hemp is in fact an ideal base material for the manufacture of plastic because of its high cellulose content, which varies between 70 and 80% that’s according to Hemp Plastics.
Zeoform, an Australian company has patented a product derived from hemp cellulose fibres which they’ve converted into an industrial, highly malleable material.
The material is non-toxic, biodegradable and can produce commercial and a range of industrial grade materials. There’s an aptly named US company called HempPlastic which has released a plastic which meets the FDA standards for food, pharmaceuticals and agricultural products. And there’s even a company called Just BioFarms which is making LEGO inspired, hemp-based bricks for a home on Vancouver. Companies all over the world have been working to advance hemp-based plastics over the past few years. Hemp technology now allows the material to be molded into products like straws, buttons, furniture, and almost any other plastic object imaginable.
Lego is Going Hemp
An entire empire of LEGO, approaching 60 years was built on plastic. But now, the gigantic Danish toy company is investing millions to get rid of it … By 2030, the 60 billion blocks that the company manufactures each year will be replaced by hemp.
It turns out hemp may just be the cost-effective and ecologically sustainable alternative material that LEGO is looking for.
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