Since 1963, Lego toys off all shapes and sizes have been moulded from ABS plastic, a material with a long list of pros; but thanks to the reliance on petroleum to make ABS, sustainability isn’t one of them. That’s why Lego is spending hundreds of millions of dollars finding an alternative.

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The company will spend $150 million on research and development of sustainable alternatives to the ABS plastic it currently uses in its toys. The aim is to have a viable alternative in production by 2030. That’s going to be harder than it sounds, thanks to the scale of Lego’s usage of ABS: 77,000 metric tonnes of raw material used last year to produce 60 billion individual Lego elements. The move follow’s Lego’s termination of a long-standing (and hugely lucrative) Shell marketing contract last year.

Of course, finding a viable alternative to oil for making plastics would be huge, and not just for the bare-foot-killing-children’s-toy industry. Scientists have been searching for alternatives for years; but as those teams have been lacking the motivational powers of screaming 5-year-olds being denied Lego sets.

[Chemical and Engineering News]


Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.