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Yes, I know that it is kind of a dumb question, as no one would want to dispose of LEGO bricks.

But it's a curiosity thing: are Lego bricks recyclable?

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3 Answers

up vote 29 down vote accepted

According to this website, LEGO bricks are made from a type of plastic called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS. We do have the technology to recycle ABS, however you would need to check with your local/national waste disposal service whether it is in use. Dropping unwanted bricks off at a local charity bin or childcare provider would certainly be the easiest way to "recycle" LEGO :)

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+1 for the charity/childcare option. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Mar 17 '12 at 21:23
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+1 : cool correct scientific answer + idealistic alternative. –  Glenn Plas Dec 31 '12 at 16:23
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I don't understand the phrase "unwanted bricks" –  Ken Jan 25 at 23:53
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The LEGO Group's sustainability report covers a few key areas, although it's not completely clear.

At the most basic level, they see passing your bricks on to relatives or friends as the most environmentally friendly way of "disposing" of your bricks:

Sustainable Play

We believe that the LEGO Group should produce and market high quality products that last for generations and are safe online and offline. It is about continuing to develop a systematic approach to creativity and play to enhance learning and to help pass on the joy of play from generation to generation. We call this Sustainable Play.

All LEGO bricks are compatible across time and product line, giving each brick a very long lifetime. LEGO bricks never become redundant, as each one can be reused to build new ideas and to unfold children’s creativity. Bricks that are not passed on to family or friends are often sold second-hand. We call this Sustainable Play. The resilience and long-life of LEGO products supports our Play Promise by extending play value over time. It also opposes a culture of ‘play and throw away’, helping to support our Planet Promise.

However they also touch on the option of recycling the bricks themselves when they talk about reusing them as the raw materials for new products:

Design for disassembly of LEGO elements

Design for Disassembly is about designing a product so it can be separated into base elements of materials at its end-of-life. Each element can then be reused as raw material for new products. When it comes to sub-assemblies and the electronic elements of our products, we also see an opportunity to encourage innovation by our suppliers to support cost reductions and environmental optimisation at the same time.

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Nice, I found a statement from LEGO saying they were able to reuse their own waste material, but nothing from them directly on whether this was possible at an individual consumer level. –  lpd Mar 18 '12 at 6:21
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As for them reusing their own waste material, they do it quite a lot, and the percentage of plastic which ends up being actually thrown away is extremely small (not sure about the exact figure, unfortunately). Re-used plastic usually ends up in darker bricks, maybe even only the black ones. –  Joubarc Mar 21 '12 at 14:39
    
@Joubarc, Yep, reusing their waste, and moving towards a "Zero Waste" goal is very clearly covered in the sustainability reports. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Mar 21 '12 at 15:22
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Still, it's rather frightening to be scolded because you touched some random glob of plastic laying around in the factory, just because it's going to be recycled and your fingerprints may hinder the moulding process (well, to be fair, it was only an issue with raw granulate, but since they start this kind of visit by saying "don't touch anything", they never miss any opportunity to remind you of it, whatever you touch. Good thing walking on the ground is mostly OK) –  Joubarc Mar 22 '12 at 13:39
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Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), the material that most LEGO bricks are made of, is also popular for using in 3D-Printers. There is an Open Source Ecology project to create a plastic shredder that makes the raw material for 3D printing. People also use 3D printers to create LEGO compatible parts, so one can recycle bricks to create bricks again!

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