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?


4 Answers 4


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 :)

  • 6
    I don't understand the phrase "unwanted bricks"
    – Ken
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 23:53

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.

  • 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
    Commented Mar 18, 2012 at 6:21
  • 2
    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
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 14:39
  • @Joubarc, Yep, reusing their waste, and moving towards a "Zero Waste" goal is very clearly covered in the sustainability reports. Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 15:22
  • 1
    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
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:39

Short answer: No, but you can make sure they are reused by sending them to us (go to www.brickrecycler.com for info on sending in your LEGOs and getting postage reimbursed if you desire and live in the US).

Long answer: We personally researched or called over 35 recycling programs that serve a population of over 30 million customers (top 30 cities with highest population, plus several more). Only one Curbside Recycling Program claims they can recycled mixed LEGOs. Only the City of San Fransico (proper) bales them up and ships them to China, but doesn't know what they make out of them). All the other cities (including NY, Dallas, Chicago, LA, San Jose, etc) said they cannot use them; either because: they are mostly ABS, some contain rubber, some contain batteries or wires, are "Type 7" but are not labeled, are too small, etc. Even cities whose web sites said "we accept all plastic types", sent us emails saying they couldn't take them for these reasons (except SF).

We even called an ABS recycling company (yes some of these exist). They said, even with pure ABS LEGOs, they would need over 1,000 pounds to make it worthwhile to them to touch it.

We have sent hundreds and hundreds of pounds of LEGOs on to "new lives", including donations to: children in Haiti, orphanage in Zimbawe, LEGO clubs, libraries, doctor's offices, etc.

We called dozens of thrift shops throughout the US and were please to find that at least "some" of them claim they can used mixed bricks, but a lot of them don't touch them, especially if they are not in complete sets. Our local Goodwill said they just dump them in the citywide recycling. We cried, then called the city recycling program, and they said they painstakenly sort them out, then dump in the landfill. We cried some more, then started this great program to give "the world's most awesome toy" a chance a 2nd life.

LEGO pieces will not decompose even after 100,000 years, which makes them an excellent choice to "pass along to a curious child".

We will be posting more details and actual emails from many curbside recycling centers soon.


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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