IKEA icon of sustainability

IKEA icon of sustainability
26 / 09 / 2019
بقلم Marwa Nassar - -

IKEA has been recognized as an icon of sustainability due to its various outstanding products which serve many sustainability domains. This drive to attain the Sustainable Development Goals has positively affected the company whose revenues up by 5 percent in 2019 FY.

According to parent company Ingka Group, Ikea’s global retail sales grew to €36.7 billion (£32.24 billion) for the 2019 financial year, compared to €34.8 billion last year.

As the world is moving to reduce plastic waste which is expected to be more than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, IKEA decided to help stem the flow of plastic into the ocean through its commitment to eliminate single-use plastic from the IKEA product range and food outlets by 2020.

Within the context of reducing single-use plastics, IKEA used to sell its products in paper bags, a trend which key supermarkets worldwide began to adopt.

In July 2019, IKEA presented its first ever large-scale plastic product ISTAD based on renewable material. It’s the all-round plastic bag ISTAD that is now made mostly (85%) of a renewable material from the sugar cane industry. The shift is expected to save around 75,000 barrels of oil yearly, helping IKEA to reduce its carbon footprint.  IKEA believes that everyone, not just a few, should be able to afford making sustainable choices.

As IKEA is keen on adding products made from more sustainable plastics, ISTAD marked an important step towards IKEA goal of only using renewable or recycled plastics in its home furnishing products – while maintaining the same low price and good quality.

Moreover, IKEA’s team managed to come up with the idea of converting PET bottles into a plastic film. This film could then be wrapped around particleboard made from recycled wood.

About one hundred billion PET bottles are used each year around the world. One third of them are recycled, but the rest become waste, or are discarded directly into the sea or in landfills. This is not sustainable for the world. Plastic is made from oil, a natural resource which will run out one day, and it takes up to incredible one thousand years for a PET bottle to break down.

The final result is KUNGSBACKA, a kitchen front that will give quite a few PET-bottles a new and much longer life. Around 25 half-liter bottles are used for each front.

But KUNGSBACKA’s striking matt finish and slanted edges give it a clean and streamlined look. And, of course, it’s durable and guaranteed to last 25 years, just like the rest of our kitchen fronts.

The innovative production of the KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts allowed IKEA to recycle PET bottles in large quantities. But the plan for these plastic bottles in disguise doesn’t end here – the sustainable KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts can be recycled again when the kitchen has served its purpose, and become something new.

IKEA has also taken into consideration the world’s struggle against diminishing water resources. Less than 3% of the water on the planet is fresh. That’s why IKEA set about making kitchen and bathroom taps that reduce water consumption. IKEA is not only committed to using water efficiently, it also worked on supporting sustainable water management in water-scarce regions and increasing people’s access to clean water.

IKEA’s ÄLMAREN kitchen tap is designed to reduce water consumption by up to 40% while maintaining pressure. This means the consumer can lower water usage as well as bills, and at the same time relieve some of the pressure to conserve the planet’s water.

The IKEA Group wants to positively affect both  people and the planet. That is why the company plans to 100 percent renewable by 2020– producing as much renewable energy as people consume using renewable sources, such as the wind and sun.

IKEA is also making its buildings more efficient, so it needs less energy to run them.

IKEA sees waste as value. It’s embedded in the IKEA DNA to use resources carefully, to create more from less and to optimize its logistic operations. IKEA seeks to help the planet to produce less waste in order to leave a cleaner, healthier planet to the generations to come.

IKEA is always looking to find new ways to use renewed and recycled resources as materials, it re-designs the production of an existing product to make it more sustainable, and it also try to make products that can be reused, repaired, reassembled and recycled by our customers. In addition to this, IKEA always tries to save as much energy as possible in its operations.

Have you ever tried to build something new out of things you found around your home? That’s what we try to do when we develop a new product.

When IKEA starts working on a new product, it looks for ways in which it can be sustainable by using either leftovers from other productions or recycled materials. The result is that consumers can buy products made from 100% surplus or recycled materials.  For example, 70% of IKEA’s GLANSVIDE quilt filling is obtained from recycled PET plastic.

IKEA’s goal is to buy all of its major materials from more sustainable sources by 2020. IKEA achieved this for cotton already in 2015.

Since September 1st 2015, all the cotton IKEA uses for IKEA products comes from more sustainable sources. This means that the cotton is either recycled, or grown with less water, chemical fertilizer and pesticides.

Over a decade ago, IKEA joined hands with other partners to establish the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), an organization aiming to make global cotton production better for the industry, people and the planet.

Today, as one of the largest catalysts for improving cotton farming, IKEA continues to positively impact the business. Currently, IKEA is the only global retailer in the world selling products made from 100% cotton from more sustainable sources.

IKEA seeks to disseminate its sustainability standpoint beyond its own business. IKEA worked with its partners in order to make cotton from more sustainable sources a mainstream practice – affordable and accessible to all.

Through hands-on training and field schools, together with its partners IKEA has helped around 110,000 farmers learn more sustainable farming methods.

This initiative enabled farmers to cut costs, increase their profits and improve their working conditions. As a result, they could afford a better quality of life for their families, including schooling for their children.

Under the Sustainable Development Goals which are meant to empower women and create jobs, IKEA launched in 2010 an initiative in order to change the production of rugs. In collaboration with suppliers in India and Bangladesh regulated weaving centers were established, improving conditions for weavers on many levels.

“Firstly we provided the weavers with regular work in a safe environment, with legal, regulated wages plus benefits such as holidays and transport. We also set up two schools, where trainees are paid while they’re learning,” Said Kushal Chakravorty, IKEA Business Development Manager.

IKEA’s ambition is to place weaving centers close to where weavers and other workers live, so they don’t have to move away from their home and family to find a job. IKEA has also made changes to the weaving process, by developing a new loom that requires less physical strength to operate. The new loom has introduced weaving as profession for women, getting them into work and the economic stability it brings. IKEA also decided not to patent the new loom, making available for everyone to use.

“We love wood because it’s durable, renewable, recyclable and beautiful. As one of the largest users of wood in the retail sector, we always look for ways to use it wisely and to source it according to high set standards. Our long-term goal is that all wood will come from more sustainable sources, defined as recycled or FSC® certified wood, by 2020.”

“We’re promoting the adoption of sustainable forestry methods. We do this in order to influence others and also to contribute to the important work of ending deforestation”- Mikhail Tarasov, Global forestry manager IKEA

In 2017, IKEA reached the goal of having 100% wood from more sustainable sources in countries with a history of challenges related to forest management.

Approaching 2020 and the goal of only using wood from more sustainable sources, more and more of our products only contain sustainably sourced wood. IKEA also takes great care to use the raw material in a responsible way – the wood is used so that unnecessary waste is minimized in production.

Although IKEA is stepping up efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, this march did not affect its revenues which ratcheted up in 2019.

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