July 21, 2021

Classic Toys Go Green

Kathryn Shanks
Classic Toys Go Green
Iconic toy franchises LEGO and Barbie join the fight against the plastic problem by using recycled plastic in their beloved products.

All over the world, brands are removing single-use plastic from their products where they can, from packaging goods in paper to taking plastic utensils off the market. More and more big brands are getting involved and, delightfully, the toy industry is no different: at the end of last month, both LEGO and Mattel’s Barbie announced their latest steps towards a sustainable future.

LEGO’s Recycled Plastic Prototypes

Based in Denmark, the LEGO Group recently unveiled the prototype of the classic LEGO bricks made entirely from recycled plastic. The prototype bricks are the fruits of labour of over 150 people working to make the toys more sustainable without compromising the quality and safety levels of the classic toy. The bricks have traditionally been made from a plastic called ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), which is non-toxic and easily mouldable but is not recyclable. As an alternative, the LEGO team has been experimenting with PET plastic from discarded bottles, with the latest prototype meeting several of their requirements – including ‘clutch power’, which describes the brick’s ability to snap onto other bricks securely.

Using this new process, a one-litre plastic bottle can be processed and turned into the equivalent of ten two-by-four LEGO bricks, and the LEGO Group is ‘super excited about this breakthrough’ – having experimented with different kinds of PET formulations over the past three years, they see this prototype as great progress. Children and adults alike have delighted in exercising their creativity with LEGO kits for decades, and while it will be a long road to 100% recycled plastic kits, LEGO lovers can rest assured that their favourite pastime will be eco-friendly soon enough.

‘The Future of Pink is Green’: Barbie’s Breakthrough

Toy giant Mattel has released the first Barbie collection made from 90% recycled plastic, with all plastic sourced from waterways without waste collection systems. Named ‘Barbie Loves the Ocean’, the collection prevents plastics from entering the ocean and aims to educate consumers on recycling and the plastic problem overall. Three dolls and several beach-themed playsets are available as part of the collection, kicking off Mattel’s goal for using 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastics by 2030.

Alongside the ‘Barbie Loves the Ocean’ collection, Mattel has partnered with 4ocean, an organisation dedicated to removing plastic from oceans, rivers, and coastlines across the globe. To make a concrete impact, consumers can purchase a 4ocean X Barbie beaded bracelet made from 100% recycled materials, with all proceeds going towards 4ocean’s activities. Every bracelet sold enables the organisation to remove a pound of plastic from the ocean, helping consumers make a difference.

Barbie and LEGO are both putting their money where their mouths are, taking real steps towards their pledges for sustainability. It’s important not only for their products to be sustainable, but for their consumers to understand what’s at stake if nothing changes, which is why both of these announcements are so wonderful: the next generations of children will be able to play with eco-friendly toys, and parents can buy those toys without worrying about endangering their children’s futures.

If you liked this article, you might like our feature about Petit Pli, a company creating children’s clothes that grow alongside their wearers. 


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