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Lego has announced a breakthrough that will allow it to produce its legendary bricks from recycled plastic bottles instead of from oil-based plastic, Reuters reports, noting the company had been hard at work searching for an alternative to new plastic for some time.
The Danish toymaker uses around 100,000 tons of oil-based plastics for its products every year, Reuters noted in its report, and has been looking for alternatives for a while now, engaging close to 150 engineers and scientists. The solution appears to be recycled plastic bottles for safe to handle beverages per EU and U.S. regulations.
"We are super excited about this breakthrough," Reuters quoted Lego's VP for environmental responsibility as saying. "We want our products to have a positive impact on the planet, not just with the play they inspire, but also with the materials we use."
The company is already using bioethylene from sugar cane to make some of the more flexible elements in its brick sets. Replacing the hard plastic of the basic brick was the one that proved challenging.
The drive to move from plastics to biodegradable alternatives is neither new nor limited to toymakers. With the world's plastic waste continuously growing and recycling rates much lower than what they could be, this has become a serious and immediate problem.
The EU has banned certain single-use plastics from July 2 this year but with a caveat: "Where sustainable alternatives are easily available and affordable." The affordability of plastics is one of the things that made them so popular, while most alternatives tend to be more expensive.
Canada is another country that has banned some single-use plastic products, as is Kenya. A total 170 countries have made pledges to reduce their use of all plastics by 2030. Right now, however, this might be hard as the plastics market is enjoying a surge in demand.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com