Lego house minus plastic: Toy brick maker plans to use sustainable material

Photo: Reuters
The chief executive officer of Lego says it’s difficult to know the financial implications of a plan — backed by one of Denmark’s richest families — to no longer make toy bricks from plastic.

“It’s hard to say,” Niels B Christiansen said by phone from Lego’s headquarters in western Denmark. “I’m not even sure that we currently yet can live up to the quality that we want. But it’s an agenda that we want to drive and an agenda that our owner is behind. We want to become a leader on this.”

Controlled by Denmark’s billionaire Kirk Kristiansen family, Lego brought in Christiansen as CEO in October. The family is behind a plan to make all of Lego’s colorful building blocks from sustainable materials, such as sugar cane, by 2030. The shift, which was announced in March, is part of a global effort to fight plastic pollution and the threat it poses to marine life in particular. For now, the Danish company has started to offer small plant-based Lego sets as gifts in connection with large purchases. 

Christiansen says it’s not yet clear whether the shift can be brought about without hurting profit margins. The feeling at Lego is that there’s been a “breakthrough” on the path away from plastic production, but there are still many unknowns, he said.

“I think it’s too early to say whether it will be necessary” to sacrifice profit to achieve the company’s sustainability goal, he said. “But we won’t compromise on our quality.”

Christiansen, who used to run Danish engineering giant Danfoss, was brought in by the Lego family to help trim the organisation after years of rapid expansion left it overly complex and difficult to steer.