Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm Glad I Don't Have This Guy's Job

I've been fortunate to have always enjoyed what I've been working on. Part of that is self-selection that comes from self-awareness. Automotive? Not a chance. Food packaging? Get outta here! But even those options look much better than the job that Allen Rasmussen has. You see, Rasmussen has what I would think is the most difficult job in the entire plastics industry - finding a sustainable material to make Lego blocks from.

As Rasmussen said himself:
"I always hear people say: ‘Oh, Lego. That’s great. I played with Lego when I was a kid, and now I’ve passed it on to my son and to his son now, and it lasts. It’s perfect.’ And I’m really torn between that,” Rasmussen said. “On the one side, I want to say: ‘Thank you. We make a good product.’ On the other side, I want to say: ‘You’ve just shown why it is my job is so damn difficult.’"

Legos are currently made from ABS, that kludge of styrene-butadiene rubber embedded in an styrene-acrylonitrile matrix. The first letters of the three monomers gives us the acronym. It's used for making all sorts of parts of durable goods such as vacuum cleaners, keyboards and mouses, etc. It's a nice material to work with, but finding any alternative to it, let alone a sustainable alternative would be as challenging as finding a US Olympic speedskater saying nice things about their new skinsuits.

People have discredited the effort to find a sustainable material due to the target date of 2030, a date that would seem to imply a less-than-serious effort. But I think it will take all that time. Lego is an undisputably high quality product and whatever they decide to work with in the end will also meet those same high quality standards. Children can be the most demanding of all consumers, but in this case, the parents are demanding too. They want new Legos to provide the same positive experience that they had when they were children.

I just glad that I don't have to provide it myself. Good luck, Allen. You're going to need it.

Previous Years
February 26, 2013 - Poly(aryl happy face)?

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