All of that put-it-together-yourself furniture that IKEA sells around the world has to come from somewhere… and most of it is made of wood. That’s why IKEA may very well be the largest global user of wood, consuming an estimated one percent of the world’s supply annually to stock its 300-plus stores around the planet with cost-effective, wood-based products, according to the Daily Mail.
The Swedish retailer is not only conscious of its massive wood usage, but it’s also doing something about it. In January 2012, for example, IKEA started using corrugated cardboard pallets instead of wooden ones. In its 2012 annual Sustainability Report, Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard says the company has “a long-term sustainable supply of wood” and uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood that supports the improvement of forest management.
“All our wood,” writes Howard, “is sourced from suppliers that meet our forestry standards and in FY12, 22.6 percent of our wood was from forests certified by the FSC.”[more]
In fact, as the world’s biggest seller of furniture, IKEA is making a very big commitment to sustainability through its “People and Planet Positive” strategy announced last October. Its stated goal: IKEA plans to gather 70 percent of its energy demands from renewable energy sources by 2015, leveraging wind farms in six European countries that generated 152 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2011, about 12 percent of the total needed for its stores and distribution centers.
IKEA is also using solar: In October 2010, it completed its first solar project in Tempe, Arizona and said 85 percent of its stores and distribution centers in the US will eventually have solar rooftop panels, according to GreenBiz.com. The company is also installing EV-charging sites at its US locations.
Steve Howard’s vision for the future goes far beyond sustainable wood and energy conservation.
“In 2020,” writes Howard, “many more customers will visit our stores using convenient public transport or perhaps by a friendly IKEA car share. If we can make it happen, they’ll be able to use a solar powered electric vehicle for home delivery or rent an electric van from the car park. They’ll know that all our raw materials are sustainably sourced or recycled, and that the company is 100 percent renewably powered. They’ll be able to buy from a bigger range of simple and affordable products that enable them to manage and produce energy in the home, sort and reduce waste, or use just the right amount of water.”
The #28 best global brand also has a social conscience. The company recently redesigned refugee shelters through its foundation. While these shelters have traditionally been made of canvas and can only last six months, IKEA’s prototype shelter, made of lightweight polymer panels with thermal insulation on a steel frame, can last for three years. 50 trial shelters are currently being manufactured to be tested in Ethiopia, Iraq and Lebanon.
It turns out that IKEA’s octogenarian founder Ingvar Kamprad (the “IK” of IKEA) has recently developed a social conscience, too. The multi-billionaire left Sweden some 40 years ago so he could avoid paying the country’s high tax rate. After decades away and the death of his wife, he’s apparently moving back, according to Bloomberg, to be with family and friends. We’re sure Sweden (and its tax collectors) will welcome him back with open arms.