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This Lego recycling program will donate your used toys to children in need

Lego Replay "recycles" your used Legos by donating them to children's non-profit organizations around the U.S.

Lego recycling program

Photo Credit: iStock

Lego bricks bring equal parts joy and pain. 

The joy: creatively playing with tiny, modular pieces. The pain: somehow seemingly damaging a few nerves every time you step on a stray Lego brick.

So how can you keep the Lego joy flowing when your kids (or you, no judgment) stop using them? Lego has an answer in the form of its tiny brick recycling program, Lego Replay.

What is Lego Replay?

Lego Replay "recycles" your used Legos by donating them to children's nonprofit organizations around the U.S. After you send in your unbroken bricks, Lego cleans them before shipping them out to kids in need.

Lego first launched the donation program in October 2019, partnering with Give Back Box and donating to Teach for America and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.

By the end of this year, Lego aims to have Lego Replay available in three countries.

Why is Lego Replay so important? 

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) reported that the toy sector is the most plastic-intensive consumer goods sector. 

Plastic is a big issue across many industries. It's made with crude oil, releases pollutants into the air during manufacturing, and breaks down into microplastics that pollute our water.

The same features that make plastic Lego bricks durable enough to withstand generations of playing are also why they can take as long as 1,300 years for them to break down in the ocean.

Another step toward circularity

By keeping toys in circulation — rather than throwing them away and creating new ones — Lego Replay minimizes the risk of these toys overwhelming landfills, polluting land and oceans, and releasing toxins into the air during incineration.

This program is another step towards creating a more circular lifecycle for Lego products and materials — one that's less harmful to humans and the planet.

Tim Brooks, Vice President of Environmental Responsibility at Lego, explained to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation: "We are concerned with helping to build a better planet for future generations and we know being part of the circular economy is part of that journey. Lego Replay wants to inspire Lego brick owners to pass along the bricks they aren't using."

How to recycle your Legos today

Helping kids gain access to these toys and the skills they build — and helping you to declutter your kid's toy bin — is a pretty simple process. 

For starters, you don't have to donate complete sets. You also don't have to clean your Lego bricks before shipping them, as the company will do it for you.

Here's what you can donate:

  1. Lego System, Duplo, and Technic bricks and elements

  2. Lego Minifigures and Mini-Dolls (you don't have to disassemble these items)

  3. Lego baseplates

Here's what you can't donate: 

  1. Non-Lego brand items

  2. Lego sets that are partially or fully built

  3. Building instructions or packaging

  4. Non-toy items such as apparel, storage containers, and backpacks

To donate your old Lego bricks, collect and disassemble all non-damaged bricks, package everything up in a box, and ship your donation off with a prepaid shipping label.

Now, if Lego could only create bricks that don't hurt when you step on them.

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