Renew News: Lego sets out building blocks for renewable energy

Lego has set an ambitious renewables target
Lego has set an ambitious renewables target

LEGO has laid out the building blocks to be powered only through renewable energy in the next five years.

The ambitious target has already seen the company reduce the energy used to create an individual LEGO brick by 20%.

The firm also plans to create its own $100million Sustainable Centre in Denmark by 2030.

Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental sustainability, said the company was chasing the most “bang for its buck” from its renewable ventures.

He said: “I think way back in 2011 and 2012, we set an ambition to be 100% renewable energy powered by 2020. It was a very ambitious agenda and target. We have been working since then to focus on delivering that target.

“We improved our process in a number of ways, changing lighting, changing insulation etc. We look at what we can do in our own facilities.”

LEGO, via its parent company Kirkbi, recently acquired a 25% in the Burbo Bank offshore windfarm.

Brooks said: “Offshore or off site we look to see what opportunities we have for renewable efficiency. What we can get a bang for a buck out of? The opportunities we have gone for are meeting that target.

“We are on track and I think this latest acquisition will ensure we’re really on track to 2020 and beyond. We have grown sufficiently in the last 10 years.”

Brooks foresees future acquisitions in its bid to be powered by renewables.

In 2014, the company introduced smaller LEGO boxes, saving 6,000 tonnes of cardboard and reducing the company’s transportation needs by 3,000 trucks. The move saved an accumulated in CO2 emissions of 10,000 tonnes.

LEGO’s Sustainable Centre in Denmark will focus on research, development and implementation of new sustainable materials in all LEGO products and packaging by 2030.

Brooks said: “We’re investing $100million in a Sustainable Materials Centre and we anticipate other smaller satellite research areas and employ the best expertise where we collaborate both with industry and with universities all the way down to children in the classroom.

“We have a number of people hired already. We plan to hire a minimum of 100 people and we are working on that at the moment – we are designing the building just now.

“We are looking across the value chain at our own production, into our product design and down to the consumer value chain. Our Sustainable Centre is one of the key components to that. We recycled 92% of our waste last year, and we have a zero waste ambition.

LEGO’s relationship with fossil fuels is complex – oil is a raw material in making the billions of bricks, which have funded the company’s fortune. Last year, the Danish company hit the headlines when it ended its relationship with Shell over the oil giant’s controversial plans to drill in the Arctic.

Brooks said the recent decline in oil price since 2014 has not had a significant impact on the business.

“Moving away from raw materials is a very complex problem – how do we get a brick that’s super safe, that’s environmentally friendly and has that great learning experience?

“We’re not focused on the money aspect of it, people ask us as well, what if the oil price goes up and what if it goes down?

“That’s not really why we do it – it’s back to the values of the company and creating a positive impact.”