Almost five years ago to the day, I wrote an SCM Now Impact article about the Lego Group’s aim to find a sustainable alternative to its petroleum-based brick material. Since then, the company has tried all sorts of ingredients — wheat; corn; sugar cane husks; and, most recently, recycled plastic bottles. Turns out it's extremely difficult to make the iconic toy bricks sustainably. So difficult, in fact, that the company announced this week that it’s scrapping the latest plan.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Lego discovered that scaling up production with recycled plastic bottles wouldn’t cut the company’s carbon emissions; rather, the extra steps involved require more energy. Though the results of the initiative are disappointing, the company isn’t giving up: As a Lego Group spokesperson told the Journal, “We remain fully committed to making Lego bricks from sustainable materials.”
Some organizations would hesitate to be this transparent about an unsuccessful venture. But disclosing goals, attempts and missteps underscores how important the ultimate objective really is. To achieve true sustainability, transparency is essential, even when it might feel a bit painful. Making bricks out of recycled plastic bottles may not be viable today, but this isn’t a failure — the commitment to sustainability is a success for everyone.
The climate crisis is worsening at an astonishing pace, so it’s no surprise that sustainable, circular supply chains are one of ASCM’s Top 10 Trends in Supply Chain for 2023, as reported by Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Rennie. She wrote at length about the urgency of the issue, citing many businesses that are leading the way and stressing that the existing business model of “take, make and throw away” is a dead-end. Rennie notes that there’s a great deal of untapped potential in the circular economy, and supply chain leaders must find ways to rethink their relationship with materials in order to reduce waste and help capture value.
Building blocks for a better future
Get started by checking out the sustainability section in ASCM’s new Supply Chain Knowledge Center app, including the members-only microlearning about circular supply chains, where you’ll explore the many reasons why your network must be a part of this important movement. Not a member? Join today for just $10 a month.
Then, assess your supply chain with the ASCM Enterprise Standards for Sustainability, which empower your organization to improve, reach key goals and be more competitive in today’s global marketplace. The framework is the world’s first comprehensive evaluation of a supply chain and can help you validate supplier quality, identify gaps for improvement and advance supply chain strategy.
Innovating in an uncertain world is challenging, but there’s never been a better time to commit to making a difference. And if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!