As LEGO spreads various parts of its supply chain and manufacturing process beyond Billund, Denmark and Enfield, Connecticut, the number of countries listed on the box after “Components made in…” has increased dramatically, making it unclear exactly where specific LEGO elements and aspects of the product packaging come from. Some LEGO fans have been concerned about the fact that the country list now includes China. After all, the PRC is not particularly well known for its positive environmental record, nor for hitting the high quality bar set traditionally by LEGO.
Although LEGO has not yet confirmed — despite general consensus among fans — that products like the Collectible Minifigures and magnet sets are manufactured in China, LEGO has recently come clean about its packaging.
Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace reports that LEGO has agreed to stop sourcing paper and pulp products from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a company based in Singapore notorious for harvesting Indonesian rainforests in an unsustainable manner. LEGO packaging I’ve reviewed does not list either Singapore or Indonesia — though APP does operate plants in China. LEGO’s original response to Greenpeace identifies the offending item as a licensed product actually manufactured by Dorling Kindersley (most likely a book) and therefore not part of LEGO’s core product lines. Nevertheless, Greenpeace has complimented LEGO on its responsiveness to the issue and leadership among toy companies. (Packaging news via Environmental Leader.)
Meanwhile, LEGO is further improving its environmental record by making its boxes smaller. Astute readers will already have noticed that the latest line of LEGO Star Wars battle packs are in smaller boxes, reducing the amount of paper needed to produce the packaging. This is apparently a general trend across all product lines.
Our sources tell us that the move toward smaller packaging was entirely business-driven — that the smaller boxes allow more product to be placed on shelves, while simultaneously giving consumers the impression that they’re getting more LEGO by increasing the “perceived density” of the product (a counter-intuitive result from consumer research). Whatever the reasons, LEGO will be using less paper in its packaging going forward, and that’s a good thing.
Next time you call LEGO, let them know that you’re thankful that they’ve taken these steps to improve sustainability and environmental stewardship.