Multinational toy manufacturer Lego has unveiled a prototype for a recycled plastic brick made out of discarded bottles.
The simple grey, 4x2 bricks were manufactured using PET, which is the easiest plastic material to process, but will need to undergo further testing before they are rolled out to consumers.
A single one litre bottle can provide enough plastic to manufacture 10 blocks of this size, according to Lego.
It’s the first time the company has got close to developing a recycled material that meets its standards, the company’s Vice President of Environmental Responsibility Tim Brooks said on Tuesday.
He said as well as making toys for children to enjoy, the company has a responsibility to the planet they will inherit and that they receive letters asking them to do more on sustainability.
“We feel as a company that we want to make these fantastic bricks… but we also feel we have a responsibility…. to the planet that they will inherit,” he said.
Australians concerned about plastic use in children's toys
Despite yesterday’s announcement, Lego say the next phase of testing will take another year, and a decision has not been made on whether to move into the pilot production phase with the current formula.
Mr Brooks said news of the development was released to help promote the use of sustainable materials and open a “broader industry discussion” about sustainable materials.
The recycled bricks were developed as part of a US$400 million ($528m) investment over three years to “accelerate sustainability ambitions”, which also includes having sustainable packing by 2025 and improving energy efficiency during manufacture.
Lego said in 2018 it plans to overhaul its dependence on petroleum-based plastics, and manufacture all toys using plant-based or recycled materials by 2030.
Only 13 per cent of plastics in Australia are recycled
Plastic toys continue to be a hot topic of debate across the nation, with supermarkets and fast-food chains often using these gimmicks to entice families into their stores.
Around 130,000 tonnes of plastic leaks into the marine environment each year from Australian shores, and supermarket collectables from these promotions have been documented as having washed up on beaches.
Australians used a staggering 3.5 million tonnes of plastic over the 2018 / 2019 period, close to a third of which was single-use.
Despite much of this plastic being recyclable, government figures show only 13 per cent is recycled, slightly higher than the United States at 8.7 per cent.
PET is the highest value plastic in terms of reuse, with a report for the 2017 / 2019 period finding over 21 per cent was recycled.
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