LEGO A/S has started hiring engineers to follow through on its promise to bring a bio-based resin to the market for its plastic bricks.
Earlier this year, the Billund, Denmark-based toymaker said that it would spend 1 billion Danish kroner, or about $152 million, to find a more sustainable alternative to its existing standard ABS used throughout its production.
The investment includes establishing the Lego Sustainable Materials Center in Billund, which will focus on finding and implementing alternatives to petroleum-based materials.
“Today I am excited to share that we have just welcomed on board the first of the more than 100 employees we will be hiring to work on this challenge,' said Chief Financial Officer John Goodwin in a news release on Lego's financial performance for the first half of 2015. “I look forward to sharing the progress we make against this important initiative in the coming years.”
Lego saw its sales climb 18 percent in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period a year ago, the company said. To keep up with that growth, Lego is increasing its workforce in the Czech Republic.
The manufacturer will create 600 new jobs at its factory in Kladno, according to the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The ministry released a statement following a meeting between Michael McNulty, the company's Senior Vice President, and Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek.
Currently, the facility in Kladno is operated by a workforce of about 2,000. The firm is carrying out a major upgrade of the factory under which Lego plans to invest 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion).
The site packs and assembles Lego sets, while molding is done elsewhere in Europe.
The Czech ministry and state-run foreign investment agency CzechInvest are also in talks with local authorities to ensure there is adequate transport infrastructure in the factory's proximity to further boost its logistics capacities.
Mládek said the two officials discussed their common interest in further developing the cooperation between the ministry and the manufacturer, as well as the investment's importance for increasing market presence in Eastern European, Russian and other markets.
Lego has been active in the Czech industry since 2000, and operates its plant in the Kladno industrial zone. The municipality is located about 30 kilometers from the country's capital Prague.