Details of the LEGO designer decompose in the ocean for about 1.3 thousand years. This conclusion was made by scientists from the University of Plymouth, whose study was published in the journal Environmental Pollution.
Over the past decade, environmental activists from Rame Peninsula Beach Care and the LEGO Lost at Sea Project have discovered thousands of designer parts and other plastic waste during regular beach cleanings on the South West Coast of England. Probably, many of the blocks from the designer were lost by children and adults during a visit to the beaches – or thrown away with household waste, and then for some reason ended up in the ocean.
Scientists took 50 blocks of LEGO, created from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), for laboratory analysis. The chemical characteristics of each part were determined using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF), and the age of the products was determined by scientists based on the content of materials that are no longer used in the production of LEGO.
Based on several parts manufactured in the 1970-1980s, researchers determined the level of wear and calculated how much they could be stored in sea water. According to scientists, small parts decompose in 100 years, and larger ones may take up to 1.3 thousand years.
“The parts that we tested were smoothed and discolored, while some of the structures were fragmented, suggesting that, like pieces that remained intact, they could break up into microplastics. This underlines the importance of the proper disposal of used household items”
Andrew Turner, lead author of the study