Most Influential Projects 2022

29 Lego Carbon-Neutral Factory

Infrastructure | Asia Pacific
Lego Carbon Neutral Factory

For creating the building blocks of carbon-neutral manufacturing

Toy companies are, by definition, focused on the needs of the next generation. And Lego Group is applying that future-forward mindset to the way it works, launching a slate of ambitious projects to beat back carbon emissions and rethink materials in every corner of the company’s massive manufacturing operations. 

“We are inspired by the millions of kids who have called for more urgent action on climate change,” said Lego Group CEO Niels B. Christiansen. “It’s critical we take urgent action now to care for the planet and future generations.”

Two years ago, the company announced it would invest US$400 million on a portfolio of projects aimed at radically revamping its environmental impact. To replace the single-use plastic bags that typically hold bricks in boxed kits, for example, Lego developed 15 prototypes and launched a manufacturing trial to roll out a Forest Stewardship Council-certified recyclable paper version by 2025. 

But in December 2021, the world’s largest toymaker announced one of its biggest, and perhaps more influential, moves to date—a US$1 billion-plus project to build a carbon-neutral factory in Vietnam. While the country is a manufacturing powerhouse, the decision to build there was driven largely by sustainability considerations. 

Meeting Asia’s surging demand for Lego products with a local factory means a shorter supply chain with less carbon-belching transport. (And given the supply chain upheaval continuing to plague global shipping, it’s worth noting the move also gives the toymaker greater resiliency for future logistics snags.)

Lego is partnering with local industrial park developer Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park Joint Venture Co. Ltd. (VSIP) to build the new 44-hectare (109-acre) facility. Located about 48 kilometers (30 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City, it’s designed to meet LEED gold standards, boasting a variety of eco-friendly components. The factory, for instance, will accommodate electric vehicles and outfit energy-efficient production equipment. Adding solar panels to the factory’s rooftop alone won’t provide enough energy, so VSIP also plans to launch a nearby solar project that will help meet 100 percent of the factory’s annual energy needs. And to compensate for vegetation removed during construction, more than 50,000 trees will be planted in the area. 

The project is scheduled to move into the construction phase by year’s end and be finished in 2024, creating up to 4,000 jobs over the next 15 years, with local employees upskilled to operate the high-tech production equipment. 

But the legions of Lego-lovers on the other side of the globe needn’t wait until then to see the positive impact. In June, the Danish toy giant announced its second US$1 billion carbon-neutral manufacturing plant will be built in the United States. Slated to be completed by 2025, it will be the 90-year-old company’s first full-scale factory in the country, and project plans reflect Vietnam’s influence—from the LEED gold rating to the construction of a solar park.