Lego's new chief sustainability officer

New recruit: Who is Lego’s new chief sustainability officer, Annette Stube?

The Lego Group has appointed Annette Stube as its new chief sustainability officer, in the week the company rowed back on its promise to make its famous bricks from recycled and oil-free plastic.

Who is Annette Stube?

Stube is currently executive vice president & head of sustainability at Swedish-Finnish paper product manufacturer, Stora Enso.

The new Lego Group chief sustainability officer will assume the role on 1 January 2024.

With more than 25 years’ experience working in sustainability, Stube could represent an astute hire for Lego. Prior to her role at Stora Enso, she worked at Maersk as head of sustainability for more than ten years. Previously, she held senior sustainability roles at Novo Nordisk.

Stube is a member of the presidency for WWF Denmark, and has acted as an adviser to the Danish government on a range of sustainability topics.

In addition, Lego’s new chief sustainability officer co-authored Squaring the Sustainability Circle and has been an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School for the past ten years.

What does the chief sustainability officer role entail?

In her new position, Stube will report to Lego’s CEO, Niels B Christiansen, and be responsible for leading the company’s environmental sustainability vision and strategy. She will work with Lego’s operations, product development and marketing teams to implement and deliver organisation-wide plans and targets.

Lego said in a statement this week that Stube will also support its external environmental communications and engagement activity.

What are people saying?

Christiansen commented: “We are excited to have Annette join us to further advance our sustainability ambitions.

“Delivering on our ‘Planet Promise’ is one of our most urgent and important challenges. While we have made significant progress over the past few years to reduce the impact our business has on the planet, we have much more to do.”

He added: “We have set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, make our products and packaging more sustainable and circular, and run zero impact operations. Annette has a strong track record in helping companies and governments drive systemic change which delivers lasting environmental impact.”

Stube remarked: “There are very few companies who have children as their primary customers, which reminds us that the need for change is very real and urgent.

“It is encouraging to see the Lego Group prioritise investments and resources against accelerating its sustainability ambitions and I am looking forward to playing my part to deliver those.”

The current context

Earlier this week, Lego was prompted to row back on its plans to make its toy bricks out oil-free and recycled materials, as it had previously said it intended to do.

The FT reported earlier this week that Lego had found its new favoured material actually led to higher carbon emissions.

On 27 September, off the back of that report and other media scrutiny, Lego opted to share “the facts” about its sustainability ambitions and progress.

“We will triple spending on sustainability initiatives to $1.4 billion in the four years to 2025,” it revealed.

“We are working to make our products from more sustainable and circular materials by 2032. We have set ourselves a target to reduce carbon emissions by 37% by 2032 and longer-term, pledged to be net zero by 2050.”

Lego revealed it has tested more than 300 different materials, saying bio-PE has been successful and is used to make botanical elements and accessories. Others, it said, have shown potential but haven’t met Lego’s “strict quality, safety and durability requirements or helped reduce our carbon footprint”.

One of the latter was rPET, and Lego acknowledged it had been optimistic about its potential, but after two years of testing opted not to progress as ultimately it would not help sustainability strategy.

“This is the nature of innovation – especially when it comes to something as complex and ambitious as our sustainable materials programme,” the brand stated.

“Some things will work, others won’t. We have learned a lot and will apply those learnings as we continue to develop new materials and explore other ways to make our bricks more sustainable.”

Until now, Lego has not had a chief sustainability officer. At present, Tim Brooks holds the most senior role as vice president sustainability of the group, while Andrew McMullen was director of environmental impacts until he left for JLL in December 2022.

[Image credit: Lego Group]

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