Lego’s shift a few years ago to selling 3D printers and blueprints for their blocks has seen their share value grow dramatically despite the naysayers who said they were committing commercial suicide.
Instead of selling blocks, they now sell 3D printers with biodegradable PLA filament and downloadable blueprints for an ever growing variety of blocks and other shapes.
Lego biodegradable PLA filament comes in a variety of colors and whilst they don’t have the strength (and plastic pollution potential) of the old blocks that last for decades and end up as landfill, you can also buy an extruder which grinds up the plastic and allows you to rebuild new pieces from the same material.
This innovation won them the 2025 Frost & Sullivan Green Manufacturing Excellence Awards and has resulted in an explosion of new designs of Lego Toys. Lego gained a strong resurgence since the Lego movie came out in 2014, but were concerned about being good corporate citizens and this initiative has ensured that they stay highly profitable despite the fact that they are no longer manufacturing their own blocks and toys.
When challenged about job losses, Lego VP of Manufacturing Morty Fied said that they are actually employing more people than before, because the block manufacture and packaging had been largely automated in factories and now they are employing many CAD toy design specialists and supporting horticulture where the raw materials are grown and extruded into biodegradable filament. He challenged other toy makers and manufacturers of plastic products to follow suit and help reduce the impact of plastic products to the environment.
Meanwhile in several countries such as India and many in Africa some forms of plastic waste are compatible for plastic extrusion with devices like the Filabot, another recent high flyer. This has resulted in people scrambling to recover waste plastics from landfill where they would have been an eyesore and dangerous pollutant for decades. Today’s rubbish is producing tomorrow’s prized toys and other products including tools and musical instruments.