LEGO continues its quest for the miracle material that could one day replace ABS plastic and the manufacturer today announces that it has succeeded in producing a brick made from recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate). This prototype would a priori offer the level of quality and safety required by the manufacturer and a one-liter PET bottle would make it possible to produce ten classic 2x4 LEGO bricks.
The campaign launched today is not an announcement in itself, it aims above all to confirm that the manufacturer is continuing its research and that recycled PET is one of the most promising materials among all those that have already been tested.
The formula used by LEGO for this first prototype includes PET from products intended for recycling as well as chemical additives which reinforce its resistance and make it possible to reproduce the essential mechanical properties, including the famous Clutch Power, to be able to hope one day to change the material without compromising on the durability of the product.
At LEGO, 150 people have been working for three years on the search for the material that may one day replace ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), a product derived from petroleum, and the manufacturer claims to have tested more than 250 formulations of "plastics" that would allow it to meet its ambitious goal of 100% sustainable materials by 2030.
At this point, there is no question of launching mass production and replacing the current ABS bricks, LEGO simply declares that it wants to launch an extended test phase which should last at least a year. The possible switch to a recycled PET-based material will not affect transparent parts and LEGO confirms that it is actively working to maintain color uniformity between the different generations of bricks.
New molds will also be necessary to ensure the production of bricks made of this new material. There is still a long way to go and it will be notably strewn with accelerated aging tests of the bricks in question to test the resistance of the material over time. It will remain to be seen in a few years how these new generation bricks will be perceived and whether there will be a "before / after" material change effect in the minds of consumers.
We know that LEGO has already integrated a biopolyethylene made from ethanol from the distillation of sugar cane in its catalog, but only 2% of production is concerned by the use of this material which does not offer the mechanical properties essential to conventional bricks. This biopolyethylene used for the manufacture of minifig accessories or plant elements is (fortunately) not biodegradable but it is recyclable via the same processes as conventional polyethylene.
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