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Designing small plastic pieces for multiple functions - storage, mobility, and play?!? Lessons from LEGO

Small plastic pieces that aid in storage and mobility can also be used for play and other functions that promote retention after initial use

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Small plastic pieces used in Case 2 (Bottle caps & tear offs) can find a use beyond that of a lid for plastic storage. Lego pieces are probably the most famous product case of small plastic pieces that are designed in such a way to elicit play when joined together.

If plastics are to find a second life after their use in portable storage, then there needs to be an incentive to reimagine what their use could be in a different context. Since bottle caps and tear-offs can't be remoulded after their initial use, perhaps they could be designed in such a way to serve multiple purposes after being used as a package cover. Designing them in bright colours and inventive shapes may make for nice desk toys or playthings for children.

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

Case 2 - relates to how design of plastic coverings can serve multiple functions

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

The importance of designing our plastics to have more than one, basic use before being discarded and providing an incentive for long-term household retention.

Tell us about yourself

A sustainability consultant and soon-to-graduate MBA Student


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Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Will!
There are 3 days left in the ideas phase of the circular design challenge! It would be great to see your ideas there, submit your idea via -

Photo of Marjorie Owner

I've entered this challenge under modular food storage -
It always made me crazy that Lego sells their open stock blocks in round containers that have no relationship to Lego! I have a design in the bottom of mine that also could lead to other designs - yes, for kids play, sand castles, playdough..... maybe you can work with me on this!

Photo of archipleasure

Hi Will,

Just interesting happenings in the world for your reference. Thought it may "play" a part in your thinking process, somehow.

A container spill caused by a storm had dumped cargos of Legos into the sea. Beach-goers started finding these on their coasts.

Jettisoned Kinder Egg toys washing up on shores.


Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Will,

Great to have you in the challenge!

Would these types of solutions potentially use more plastic? There is another idea you might want to check out - FUNCAP 

Will you be in the ideas phase, which starts in 3 days time? It would be great to have someone with your expertise onboard.

Photo of Alex Tomic

Hi Will,

I am a big fan of Lego and of your idea. Making containers valuable beyond one use and for different purposes seems to fit well with this challenge.