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LEGO lays first bricks for its $1 billion solar-powered 'carbon neutral' U.S. toy factory

A Lego city
Image Credit: Unsplash // HONG LIN

The world-famous Danish toymaker, LEGO Group, is breaking ground on a new factory in Virginia. This is its first factory on U.S. ground since 2007 and the big difference between this factory and its six others around the world is that LEGO claims that once its Virginia factory opens in 2025 it will be fully carbon neutral.

Carbon neutrality will be achieved with a massive amount of onsite solar power — enough to power the entire campus. LEGO announced the factory earlier this year, showing off its sustainability goals, and on April 13 they began laying the first bricks.

Lego factory entrance with a lego dinosaur against a green wall
Image Credit: LEGO (Entrance of the new AMS factory)

LEGO’s commitment to the planet began back in 2014 when the company dropped a longtime licensing deal with oil giant Shell after being challenged by Greenpeace.

Since, the company has established goals including ambitions around sustainable packaging and renewable energy, and by 2025, the company plans to ensure none of its facility waste reaches landfills. By 2032, they also plan to reduce their absolute CO2 emissions by 37% compared to 2019 levels.

The toymaker has also had a hand in wind turbines in partnership with one of the biggest turbine makers in the world, Vestas, and even made a wind turbine LEGO set of its own made from. While still plastic, these “sustainable bricks” were derived from sugarcane rather than the fossil fuel petroleum. Plus, by 2030, LEGO plans to make all its bricks with bioplastic feedstocks made possible by its partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).

Aside from the company’s IRL clean energy ambitions, it’s also made sets like the LEGO EV charging station and a LEGO Tesla Cybertruck. Just this month they unveiled a full-on meticulously detailed EV Hypercar in partnership with automobile company Peugeot.

(If you’ve never had a LEGO phase, now is the time to get freakishly into building blocks.)

But back to the new factory.

When LEGO announced the factory last June, CleanTechnica reported it as the first-ever U.S. factory complete with an on-site solar panel array. The amount of solar power needed to power the 340-acre site amounts to a total electricity generation capacity of 30-35MW, which is enough to power 10,000 average U.S. homes.

In a release, LEGO also said it plans to use energy-efficient production equipment throughout the construction process and during the operation of the facility. According to the company, the factory will help them reach its 2032 emission reduction targets. Plus, once completed it will create 1,760 local jobs.

gray lego factory surrounded by small forests
Image Credit: LEGO (aerial image of new AMS factory)

The carbon-neutral factory in Virginia is just the first block in LEGO’s plans for future clean energy factories. In 2024, another “carbon neutral” factory is set to open in Vietnam, and the company also has more facilities planned for w Mexico, Hungary, and China.

According to Lego's chief operations officer Carsten Ramussen via Greenbiz, the new factory will “allow us to inspire millions of children across the Americas through play and we can't wait to get started.”

“We are working hard to reduce emissions at the LEGO Group and are really excited about our plans to build this solar plant as we push towards a better world for our children to inherit,” he told the publication.

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