Lego testing new recycling program for unwanted bricks

Danish toymaker Lego is testing a new way for customers to return their unwanted bricks in an effort to move closer to its goal of switching to 100 percent sustainable materials by 2030.

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U.S. customers can now print out a mailing label on its site, dump their used Lego bricks in a box and ship them off for free, the company announced.

Big ideas may start small, but they will help us build a greener planet one brick at a time."

- Lego

The pieces will be cleaned, put in a box and given to Teach for America, a nonprofit that will donate them to classrooms across the United States. Some bricks will be also sent to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston for its after-school programs.

The company typically tells its customers to keep their bricks or pass them on to others. But some have asked for another way to donate them, said Tim Brooks, Lego’s vice president of environmental responsibility.

"We believe we have a responsibility to minimise the environmental impact of our operations. However for us, minimising is not enough, we want to aim for zero environmental impact on the planet."

- Lego

In 2015, the Lego Group announced its ambition to use 100 percent sustainable materials in both its bricks and packaging by 2030. Today, the Lego Group announced that it is aiming for 100 percent sustainable packaging by 2025 in an effort to make a "positive impact on the lives of children, our colleagues, our community and the planet."

Lego pieces: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

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Lego, which is looking to please customers worried about plastic’s impact on the environment, joins other brands in shifting toward sustainable and eco-friendly practices.

A day prior to Legos' announcement, consumer products giant Unilever pledged to halve its use of non-recycled plastics by 2025 following a related move by Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain. In August, Marriott announced it will eliminate small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel from its hotel rooms worldwide by December 2020.

In July, IHG, the owner of Holiday Inn, announced it plans to eliminate about 200 million tiny bottles each year by 2021.

Lego is also working to find other materials for its colorful bricks. But acquiring one as durable as plastic has been a challenge, Brooks said. Last year, however, it began making Lego trees and bushes out of sugar cane.

The announcement follows rival toymaker Hasbro's plan to get rid of plastic packaging. Hasbro, known for iconic toys such as Monopoly and Mr. Potato Head, announced in August that beginning in 2020, it plans to begin phasing out plastic from new product packaging with the goal to completely eliminate plastic use in its packaging by 2022.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.