The LEGO Group has been around since the 1960s in the US, with headquarters in Connecticut and 100 LEGO-branded stores across the country. It also operates factories worldwide. According to Retail Dive, LEGO was the most popular “toy” on the market in 2021, beloved by children and adults alike.
Facing supply chain issues, the LEGO Group has announced plans to build two new factories at $1+ billion each, and both are designed to be carbon-neutral facilities.
In December 2021 the company announced its sixth factory would be built in Vietnam. In June 2022 it announced that a seventh factory would be constructed in the U.S. in Virginia. Construction on both is expected to begin in the second half of 2022.
As described on the LEGO website, both state-of-the-art factories will be designed so 100-percent of day-to-day energy needs will be matched by renewable energy generated by onsite or adjacent solar parks. The sites will also be designed to minimize energy consumption and use fewer non-renewable resources.
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The LEGO environmental policy describes building a sustainable future, making a positive impact on the planet, and achieving environmental sustainability through a variety of ways: materials, packaging, circularity, renewable energy, carbon efficiency, collaboration, zero waste, and sustainable technology and innovation. The company has even created botanical models – for instance bushes, leaves and trees – made from 98% polyethylene plastic produced from sugarcane.
The company’s first carbon-neutral factory, in Vietnam, is targeting a minimum standard of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. It will have solar panels on its roof, and a supplemental solar project will be built nearby. Together the solar capacity is planned to match all of the factory’s annual energy needs, plus accommodating electric vehicles. Production is expected to start in 2024.
LEGO factories use precision technology to mold, process and pack LEGO products, and LEGO reports that production equipment will be energy efficient. In addition, sustainability standards are planned for water and waste systems. To compensate for vegetation removed to construct the factory, the plan includes planting 50,000 trees in Vietnam.
Besides meeting sustainability goals with solar energy, the Virginia location will include links to transportation networks that serve its largest markets. The company explained that shortening the distance products have to travel will lower the carbon footprint. According to LEGO, production at the 1.7 million-square-foot Virginia facility is projected to begin in the latter part of 2025 and will employ more than 1,760 people. An existing building nearby will house a temporary packaging operation that will create up to 500 additional jobs.
LEGO reported that its manufacturing facility in Mexico, supplying mainly the U.S. market, will be expanded and upgraded to meet growing demand. LEGO factories in China and Europe (Hungary, Czech Republic, Denmark) are also being expanded.