LEGO drops paper from Indonesian rainforests, reduces box sizes [News]

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.

9 comments on “LEGO drops paper from Indonesian rainforests, reduces box sizes [News]

  1. tykeltner

    I wrote a piece for Brick Journal on the company’s push to become more ‘green.’ The package size is one issues highlighted in the article. No word yet on whether it will be published. Unfortunately it’s too late for this info to be included.

    On a related note, Lego is one of the main creators of the “Wind Made” label that should be coming to product packaging to indicate products made by wind power.

  2. Pelko

    Great. I was very afraid to see a knee-jerk reaction from TLG when Greenpeace included them in their campaign. Instead they (somewhat) embraced the criticism and acted on it. Not perfect yet, but getting there. Well done from TLG.

    And thanks for posting positively about this on The Brothers Brick, it’s nice to read about these things.

  3. WetWired

    Great news, the past few years of survey’s I’ve mentioned packaging size as one of my issues with the company. Not only does it reduce paper/cardboard used, it also decreases the size of items for shipping and reduces fuel\resources used for transport.

  4. MV

    Funny, the LEGO website doesn’t have any contact categories where you can just gush about them. I had to write a letter via the VIP department. Well, hope someone sees it.

  5. worker201

    I’ve been advocating for them to do exactly this for awhile now. Glad to hear they finally came around. Now we just need them to reduce the number of plastic bags that come in the box.

  6. Jean C

    For smaller sets, it would save paper if they printed instructions on the inside of the box; for larger ones, a web address would suffice – there wouldn’t be many Lego customers without web access these days.

    Also, I suggest printing on the bricks would be more environmentally sound than supplying stickers.

  7. worker201

    ^ Some users might prefer printed bricks, but I personally prefer the stickers, because I can use them in other models, or not at all.

  8. Josh

    @Jean C. – Having the instructions only available online is not a good idea. That is taking paper reduction too far. I hate building from online instructions and I don’t want to have my kids online simply to build a Lego set. And not everyone is comfortable using the internet. There are a lot of people who aren’t, believe me.

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