Jiaxing, China — Toy molder Lego A/S has a new 1.77 million-square-foot injection molding plant in China that, when it's operating at full capacity, will make 72 billion ABS bricks annually.
But the company is keeping a focus on sustainability. The most recent sign: Lego is in the process of installing 20,000 solar panels on the factory roof. The company expects the panels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.81 million pounds per year.
Tim Brooks, vice president for environmental sustainability, and President and CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp traveled to Jiaxing for a Nov. 25 inauguration event. The factory actually started production about a year ago.
Some 1,200 people are employed at the factory, which produces between 70 to 80 percent of all Lego products sold in Asia. Billund, Denmark-based Lego also owns and operates factories in Denmark, Hungary, Mexico and the Czech Republic.
Brooks said the Jiaxing plant is Lego's most sustainable.
Lego sustainability drive has achieved some measurable results. Packaging waste has been reduced, and energy efficiency has been increased so that the amount of energy used to make each Lego brick has been reduced by 16 percent. Lego still hopes to achieve another 2.5 percent reduction.
The Jiaxing factory also uses 100 percent LED lighting and highly efficient molding machines. Brooks said the sustainability drive extends into the local community. Lego has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emission by 8 million pounds in surrounding Jiaxing area.
One of the two molding workshops visited by Plastics News featured 384 molding machines in 404,723 square feet of space. Lego representatives said the company plans to expand to 1,536 machines in eight workshops to handle the hundreds of different molds.
Brooks said the company currently buys about 76,000 tons of plastic a year, but Lego's search for a replacement material for ABS continues. He emphasized that is one component of a larger sustainability effort. The company is investing $100 million on finding more sustainable materials.
“In the long term we want to be zero waste,” he said in an interview at the Jiaxing plant.