LEGO is working towards replacing oil-based plastics with sustainably sourced ones and has stated that by 2030 it intends to use sustainable materials in all of its core products and packaging.
This year, the first step on that journey has been taken and the first products containing plastics from sustainable sources will soon be on the shelves.
To make consumers aware of this, 40320 Plants From Plants, which contains parts produced from sugarcane, will be a gift-with-purchase during August.
Will you be able to tell the difference?
The majority of LEGO parts are produced using ABS and polycarbonate but plants and other flexible pieces are made from polythene, a plastic manufactured from ethylene. That is usually produced from petrochemical sources but can also be made from bioethanol derived from sugarcane or other crops.
Producing polythene parts sustainably was therefore the obvious place to start, and making plant pieces from plant ethanol first -- "plants from plants" -- is a masterstroke of marketing.
At the recent LEGO Fan Media days in Billund we had an opportunity to talk to Matt Whitby, Environmental Responsibility Engagement and Bistra Andersen, Senior Materials Platform Manager, about this initiative and at the end of the session they gave us a 40320 Plants From Plants to evaluate and review.
Box and contents
The small box is so full that it bulges at the seams a bit. The plants from plants logo which adorns the top right corner indicates that the parts inside are produced sustainably but apparently it won't be used routinely on regular sets that contain them.
Inside are two bags of botanical elements.
The bags contain:
- 16 Green 30176 Bamboo Leaves 3X3
- 4 Lime green 2423 Limb Element, Small
- 3 Green 6064 Bush
- 2 Green 2435 Spruce Tree, Small
- 4 Green 6148 Palmleaf, Small
Can you tell the difference?
No! They look, feel, smell and work just like 'regular' botanical elements. This is because, chemically, they are the same. You can safely mix them with your other plant pieces safe in the knowledge that there is no difference.
Note that sustainable does not mean biodegradable: these parts, like everything made from polythene, will not degrade over time.
You can never have too many plant pieces so this box provides an excellent opportunity to stock up on them. The fact they are made from sugarcane will make no difference whatsoever in use.
However, it does make a difference in cutting down on the use of fossil fuels, so it's a big deal for the company, and the planet.
Producing polythene parts in this way is LEGO's first step towards using sustainable materials in all of its core products and packaging and releasing this set is a great way to make people aware of it.
The session at the fan media days was very interesting and if you'd like to find out more about it and the work being done phase out oil-based plastics I recommend you read this excellent article at New Elementary: Sustainable LEGO elements: 40320 Plants from Plants. You'll also find some side-by-side old vs. new comparison pictures there, although you won't seen any differences as there are none.
Tom Alphin has also published a great write-up: #40320 ‘Plants from Plants’ is first step towards sustainability.
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for this review, which is an expression of my own opinions.