LEGO Group invests up to $400m to accelerate sustainability and ditch plastic

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The FINANCIAL — The LEGO Group announced plans to invest up to US$400 million over three years to accelerate sustainability and social responsibility initiatives. The investment will cover both long-term investments and ongoing costs. The company will begin to phase out single-use plastic bags used in LEGO boxes to package the loose bricks. This is part of its ambition to make all its packaging sustainable by the end of 2025. From 2021, Forest Stewardship Council-certified recyclable paper bags will be trialed inboxes.

Pressure has been mounting on the company to reduce its plastic packaging particularly since sales and profits rose during the coronavirus pandemic. Families have been buying Lego sets to keep children occupied during the lockdown and the toymaker still has plans to open 120 new stores around the globe this year. Programs to encourage the reuse of Lego have seen bricks donated to over 23,000 children in the US. The company now plans to roll the scheme out to two more countries by the end of 2022. Its social responsibility drive will also see the scaling-up of play programs in partnership with UNICEF and Save the Children, according to Yahoo Finance.

The LEGO Group CEO, Niels B Christiansen said: “We cannot lose sight of the fundamental challenges facing future generations. It’s critical we take urgent action now to care for the planet and future generations. We believe children should have access to opportunities to develop the skills necessary to create a sustainable future. We will step up our efforts to use our resources, networks, expertise, and platforms to make a positive difference.”

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Niels B Christiansen also said that as a company that looks to children as their role models, they are inspired by the millions of kids who have called for more urgent action in climate change. The company will start to ditch single-use plastic from its Lego box packaging next year. Instead, bricks will be inside the recyclable paper. Christiansen also said that they have received many letters from children about the environment asking them to remove single-use plastic packaging. He also added that children liked the paper bags as they were environmentally friendly and easy to open. A scientific study looking into how long plastic stays in the oceans revealed that Lego bricks could last more than 1,000 years underwater. The company said it would be investing up to $400m in an effort to make all of its packaging sustainable in the next five years, with a promise to make all its products from sustainable materials in the next 10 years – including the use of bio-bricks, such as those made from sugar cane, BBC reported.

The LEGO Group, which benefited from a surge in sales during lockdowns as more people of all ages bought sets, uses about 5,000 metric tons of plastic a year to box its products, accounting for 10% of its total packaging. A much bigger problem is the LEGO pieces themselves, which require 90,000 metric tons of plastic a year to make. LEGO has been working for years to develop alternatives to petroleum-based plastic that can be used in its blocks. Some progress has been made, but the vast majority of individual pieces are still made with plastic. Sustainably produced LEGO bricks need to be equally safe, durable, and technically sound as the plastic variety, with the identical color fastness and compatibility with older bricks, said Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at LEGO, CNN wrote.

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It is also interesting to note that on September 2 The LEGO Group announced the appointment of Jesper Andersen as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer effective October 1, 2020. Andersen will lead the LEGO Group’s finance team which includes strategic financial planning and reporting, audit, tax, treasury as well as the company’s legal, compliance and risk management, strategy and transformation, and business services teams. Andersen will report to Niels B Christiansen and sit on the company’s Executive Leadership Team.

Niels B Christiansen made a comment and said: “Jesper’s extensive global experience as a Chief Financial Officer will benefit the LEGO Group well as we drive towards achieving our ambition of bringing a play to more children around the world. He is a values-driven leader with a strong track record developing world-class teams focussed on delivering long-term sustainable growth.”

Earlier this year, UK retailer Iceland revealed it has cut 29% of its yearly plastic usage and claimed to be plastic-free by 2023. The retailer was the first globally to make such a commitment and remains the only supermarket in the UK to have pledged to remove the plastic in its entirety from its own-label range. Iceland stated that 74 of its frozen meal lines have been moved from non-recyclable black plastic and into paperboard-based trays. Read more.

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