A heart-shaped Lego brick among a number of different Lego bricks

Circular economy

Old Lego bricks transformed into new bricks

If you have any toy building bricks, for example Lego, that are lying around your home unused, you can now donate these to the Rebricks non-profit project, where they will be sorted, cleaned and ultimately packaged into low-priced toy boxes in Migros.

Ralf Kaminski
What we do

Weighing out precisely one kilogram is not so easy. The display on the weighing scales shows 1.0115, so the Stiftung RgZ employee removes one building brick, only for it to change to 0.9902. He then places a smaller brick in the plastic box: 1.0079. Léonie Leser (25) from Migros Cooperative Zurich is monitoring what's going on: "That's fine, it's better to have slightly too much than too little," she tells the man after he makes another attempt.

Leser is the project manager for Rebricks – a project aimed at taking old toy building blocks that are no longer being used and giving them new life. "There is a large amount of Lego and other toy building blocks laying unused in numerous cellars and attics, despite the fact that they could still be played with without any problems." She believes that the non-profit project represents a step towards greater sustainability and the embracing of a circular economy.

How it works: If you have any of these toy building bricks at home and you would like to donate them, visit rebricks.ch and enter your address. You will then be sent a postage-paid bag, which you can fill with the bricks. Put the full bag of used toy bricks in the post box and they will make their way to Stiftung RgZ in Zurich-Altstetten. Once they arrive, the bricks will be sorted by people with mental and physical disabilities before being cleaned and packed into Rebricks boxes each weighing 1 kilogram.

New second-hand market

The boxes will then be sold in the Migros City branch store in Zurich city centre in December for CHF 24.90 – just in time to be given as a Christmas gift. An initial test run in spring proved promising. "The building bricks sold out in no time at all," says Léonie Leser. "It will once again be a case of 'first come, first served'." This is because there are approximately 170 kilograms of used building bricks available at present. The aim is for there to be a constant flow of such bricks being donated in the future, thus establishing a nationwide second-hand market. Should this come to pass, Rebricks would then be available for purchase in further Migros branch stores or online.

This is also something that Simon von Känel (44), Work Manager at Stiftung RgZ, hopes will happen. "It would be an appealing addition to the other work that we offer." There are currently around 120 people with disabilities employed by the foundation, with approximately half of these working in workshops that provide protected jobs with a monthly salary. These include jobs in gastronomy and cleaning, as well as carrying out bicycle repairs and dealing with large consignments for companies. "With our support, some even manage to land jobs in the mainstream labour market," says von Känel.

Proud to work for Migros

There are currently ten people working on the Rebricks project. "It is a special project for them," says Mirco Looser (28), Team Leader of the workshop. "They were extremely excited that someone from the media would be stopping by today to photograph and film them." He continues by saying that it fills the workers with pride to be able to tell their friends and family that they have worked for such a well-known company as Migros.

Once the bricks have been sorted, the workers place these in bags and put them in a washing machine. Afterwards, the building bricks are left to dry, weighed out and placed in boxes. Looser estimates that the team can process approximately 70 kilograms of bricks per day.

Are Rebricks competition for the official Lego construction sets that are also being sold in Migros? Léonie Leser shakes her head. "No, they are just extra bricks to supplement people's collections. After all, you don't know for sure what kind of bricks there actually are in the box." She continues by saying that there are now apps, however, with which you can take photos of the bricks you have. "These provide plans and instructions of everything you can build with them."