Master_Data

LEGO makes a non-ABS prototype brick

34 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Under the radar, but LEGO revealed an update about replacing the ABS brick both in their 2016 Responsibility Report and a LEGO Batman Movie article here:

Quote

The LEGO Group continued to make progress against its ambition to use only sustainable materials in its products by 2030 and in 2016, produced prototypes elements made from sustainably sourced plastic derived from wheat.

The prototypes as featured in the Responsibility Report:

Untitled.jpg

So, what do you think of the progress?

Mods: If this should be merged with a previous thread, please do so. I didn't want to bump a three-year-old topic.

Edited by Master_Data

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Hmmm, very interesting, derived from wheat. Thanks for pointing this out. I wonder how the durability compares. Does anyone know if they want to make these biodegradable? Because if so, the durability cannot be the same.

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Sounds great as I once promised to eat a 2x4 brick if anyone ever made an actual flying LEGO plane using _only_ LEGO parts :laugh:

 

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6 hours ago, BrickHat said:

Hmmm, very interesting, derived from wheat. Thanks for pointing this out. I wonder how the durability compares. Does anyone know if they want to make these biodegradable? Because if so, the durability cannot be the same.

Was wondering exactly this. The standard ABS is extremely strong for what it is (IIRC they can withstand something like 400lbs of force before failing). I fully trust LEGO to make any future products just as stable as the old ones, I just hope they don't rush into it too much and do the research to make sure it can last as long.

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Well if they're expecting it to be 2030 before they can do this properly they're probably pretty far off in either build quality or cost effectiveness, and most likely both right now. I hope they do well though. This is a very important thing in my eyes.

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You know... A cynical person might say that LEGO is trying to put an end to the secondary sales market by making the bricks dissolve away after X many years.

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As long as the durability is the same and they look the same, great!

On 22/04/2017 at 7:26 AM, 1974 said:

if anyone ever made an actual flying LEGO plane using _only_ LEGO parts

I was actually planing on trying that soon :sweet:.

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Again, these efforts are to produce sustainably SOURCED parts—it has nothing to do with making the parts themselves biodegrade. Lego is being quite smart to look at alternatives to petroleum-based products, not just for the sake of the environment but also so that they have a fallback plan if oil becomes too scarce or expensive to continue relying on.

It's good to see that Lego is already making good progress toward this goal!

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Lyichir said:

Again, these efforts are to produce sustainably SOURCED parts—it has nothing to do with making the parts themselves biodegrade. Lego is being quite smart to look at alternatives to petroleum-based products, not just for the sake of the environment but also so that they have a fallback plan if oil becomes too scarce or expensive to continue relying on.

It's good to see that Lego is already making good progress toward this goal!

Correct - "sustainable" is not the same thing as "biodegradable." It just means LEGO is looking for a plant-based plastic that will work as well as ABS, which uses petro-chemicals.

And "biodegradable" is not necessarily a good thing for the environment. When organic matter decomposes it creates methane, which is a far more harmful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. You have to look at the whole life cycle of the product to measure whether it's an environmental plus or minus.

Likewise, while wheat is renewable where oil is not, you have to consider that it takes an awful lot of oil to grow wheat (or other crops). Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are made with petro-chemicals. The machinery used to plant, cultivate and harvest wheat runs on petro-chemicals. LEGO has business reasons for not wanting to have to rely on oil for its plastic; the price is volatile and much of it comes from parts of the world that are politically unstable or potentially so. "Sustainability" sounds nice to the moms and dads who are paying for the sets, but I suspect that if one compared the real environmental cost of using a "sustainable" plastic vs. the current method there would be little or no actual advantage - and it might even be worse for the environment when looked at from start to finish considering all the inputs and the byproducts.

Edited by 62Bricks
typos!

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3 hours ago, 62Bricks said:

Likewise, while wheat is renewable where oil is not, you have to consider that it takes an awful lot of oil to grow wheat (or other crops).

...and then there's arguments over should we be using our land to grow crops for food or crops for products (biodiesel etc and now plastic for toys)? We use less oil if we can grow our fuel (which is good for our planet), but we still have many underfed countries in the world. Which should be prioritised? At the moment we seem to be making ourselves more land by deforestation. Oh, this world is a mess, isn't it!

But I digress. At least LEGO is making explorations into alternatives, it shows the company wants to move forwards and be sustainable at least in the short-term. Good on them.

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On 2017-04-23 at 3:04 AM, mocbuild101 said:

As long as the durability is the same and they look the same, great!

I was actually planing on trying that soon :sweet:.

your best bet would be a engine powered with a twisted elastic,but you won't go very far

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Hopefully these new bricks don't crack as easily as the current ones do. :sceptic:

The "armpit" crack is the bane of my existence. Hopefully this is a solution. Only using sustainable products is a great step forward as well :thumbup:

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5 hours ago, Benylin said:

your best bet would be a engine powered with a twisted elastic,but you won't go very far

Thats is gliding, not flying (and TLG never made any elastics bands worth doing that anyway)

Flying means you can control the aircraft. Not possible with the current batch of PF parts. Many have tried, all have failed

Prove me wrong and I'll eat that darn brick, ABS or wheat!

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There was a topic awhile back when they first announced their initiative:

I think it's impressive. The article linked to in the thread above quotes some higher-ups at TLG and their remarks are worth the read.

As for total sustainability and food vs fuel arguments, I would be interested in how this plays out. I know that ethanol subsidies (~10 years ago) had a huge impact on the market for corn here in the US affecting everything from Heinz ketchup to candy to cereal, at one point causing tortilla riots in Mexico. Of course, I expect a single consumer (even a large one like TLG) to make much less of a splash than a big government initiative...(sorry, not trying to get political here). Like I said, I'm curious to see what happens.

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2 hours ago, 1974 said:

Thats is gliding, not flying (and TLG never made any elastics bands worth doing that anyway)

Flying means you can control the aircraft. Not possible with the current batch of PF parts. Many have tried, all have failed

Prove me wrong and I'll eat that darn brick, ABS or wheat!

This reminds me of something my aircraft professor used to say: "Given enough power, I can make a brick fly".

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6 hours ago, BrickHat said:

 "Given enough power, I can make a brick fly".

This was always the argument given to explain the US Air Force's (and Navy's) F-4 Phantom.  :laugh:

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6 hours ago, Rotundus said:

This was always the argument given to explain the US Air Force's (and Navy's) F-4 Phantom.  :laugh:

This is everything, but definitely not a brick (well, at least not a SINGLE brick):

 

15051315699_58bb8f3ed1_c.jpgPhantom F4-B VF-161 by Carl Greatrix

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I've told people before that I want to reduce oil consumption not simply for environmental reasons but also so I can have my plastic toys.

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On 4/23/2017 at 0:06 PM, 62Bricks said:

 

And "biodegradable" is not necessarily a good thing for the environment. When organic matter decomposes it creates methane, which is a far more harmful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. You have to look at the whole life cycle of the product to measure whether it's an environmental plus or minus.

Likewise, while wheat is renewable where oil is not, you have to consider that it takes an awful lot of oil to grow wheat (or other crops). Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are made with petro-chemicals. The machinery used to plant, cultivate and harvest wheat runs on petro-chemicals. LEGO has business reasons for not wanting to have to rely on oil for its plastic; the price is volatile and much of it comes from parts of the world that are politically unstable or potentially so. "Sustainability" sounds nice to the moms and dads who are paying for the sets, but I suspect that if one compared the real environmental cost of using a "sustainable" plastic vs. the current method there would be little or no actual advantage - and it might even be worse for the environment when looked at from start to finish considering all the inputs and the byproducts.

This is all so true! I understand Lego is still working on it but when I read wheat, I'm thinking "uhhhhh... Your going to use a lot oil to grow and harvest wheat!" And then there's the process of turning it into a plastic like material. And then you have the chemicals they spray on for "protection". And IMO, those chemicals are way more dangerous then your average carbon monoxide and what not. Now don't get me wrong! I am totally on board with what Lego is doing, and am also a little irritated that Lego had to take it upon them selves to solve this problem instead of our governments or whoever doing the job, but this is not the way to go. Wheat? C'mon! I'm very disappointed. :cry_sad:  Just my thoughts.

LMF

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I hope someone at TLG reads this thread, just to consider the points we raised. Maybe some here with connections to TLG would step up to the plate and send them the link.

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21 minutes ago, splatman said:

I hope someone at TLG reads this thread, just to consider the points we raised. Maybe some here with connections to TLG would step up to the plate and send them the link.

Agreed. You could post the link on the embassy. That might help.

LMF

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I sent a message to TLG, including a link to this thread. Here's the reply:

Quote

Dear Scott,

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

Thank you for reaching out to us with that article, that was very interesting to read!

Have you checked out our 2030 initiative in regards to moving towards sustainable recourses? If you have not already I would recommend checking that out on our service website!

We want to innovate our sourcing and use of materials. We have therefore made a commitment to find and implement sustainable alternatives to our current oil-based raw materials by 2030 and to use sustainable packaging for all LEGO® products, while also aiming to improve our waste management.

Thank you for bringing wheat plastic to our attention, I am going to pass the feedback along to the team in charge of our initiative!

Happy Building!

 

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1 hour ago, splatman said:

I sent a message to TLG, including a link to this thread. Here's the reply:

 

Thanks splatman!!! You rule!

LMF

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Suppose if I wanted to, I could make the raw materials that go into ABS (styrene, butadiene, and acrylonitrile) out of a combination of ammonia, and methane from natural gas; or as a stretch goal, replace the methane with atmospheric CO2 and H2O with CO and H2 production via electrolysis, and synthesize the ammonia in a Haber type process.  The energy penalty, however, would be much larger than that of making the same raw materials from petroleum.  I suppose I could use CSP (concentrating solar power) or wind energy to provide energy for the process, but any process involving conversion of CO2 or H2O is intrinsically highly inefficient.  I suspect that the cost of power from CSP will be much lower in 5-10 years than it is now, reducing the cost inefficiency at least, and with continuing advances in process and catalyst technology, there will be no need to replace ABS, as the starting materials could be sourced from renewables rather than petroleum.

However, if TLG's goal is to make a degradable brick, that is a different story.

Either way, having active customer support, in this case LEGO, driving the chemical industry towards totally green manufacturing is what is needed to effect change.  Regardless of whether LEGO succeeds internally, they are such a big player in the ABS area that they can make a change to their suppliers and supply streams.

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