Everyone's favorite building block is about to get a structural makeover. Lego has announced that it is looking for a sustainable option to replace the 6,000 tons of ABS plastic it uses in its popular brick sets. The company is also investing $150 million to develop the Lego Sustainable Materials Centre. In a statement, Lego Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen says, "the investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to
leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will
inherit." Lego also referenced a "2030 ambition on sustainable materials."
While Lego bricks themselves are not building materials (or are they?), the announcement has a sense of irony when placed against a construction backdrop. Plastic has been the sustainable material of choice for many building products manufacturers, particularly for exterior products including siding, windows, trim, and composite decking. The PVC and other types of plastic used in these products provide durability and longevity, addressing homeowners' demands for more low-maintenance materials.
Green building programs often give credits for products that incorporate recycled materials like plastics, and some manufacturers have performed lifecycle analyses to help assert their eco-friendliness. In a recent buyer's guide article on cellular PVC trim, REMODELING learned that many construction pros also benefit from these materials over traditional wood carpentry due to the ease of installation for less-skilled crews.
What's your opinion of plastics in building materials? Do their durability benefits and recyclability outweigh arguments over production costs and potential pollutants? Share your experiences in the comments while you enjoy your favorite (soon-to-be vintage ABS plastic) Lego set.