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Materials

Lego Began Research On Switching To A Biobased Plastic

Plastics: Company plans to spend $150 million to move away from current formula

by Alex Scott
December 21, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 49

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Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

COVER STORY

Lego Began Research On Switching To A Biobased Plastic

An article on the disclosure by the Danish toy maker Lego that it wants to switch the feedstock for its iconic building blocks from petrochemicals to sustainable raw materials was C&EN’s most-read online story in 2015. The company said it is spending $150 million and hiring 100 staffers to replace its current formula, which features the synthetic copolymer acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, with a biobased one by 2030. Switching is not trivial; Lego blocks are made to an exact formula that enables them to be clicked together and pulled apart by the tiniest hands. As it is, the toys are so popular that the company had trouble building up supplies to meet holiday demand this year. The firm used 77,000 metric tons of raw materials to make more than 60 billion Lego pieces in 2014. Whatever new material Lego adopts, it will have to work at this kind of scale.

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