IKEA and Apple Raise the Sustainability Bar by Buying Their Own Forests


IKEA Forest

If you were to ask paper manufacturing executives about their sustainability practices, they would probably say they’re doing a fine job of managing the “working forests” they use. They replant and steward these areas responsibly so they yield even  more trees, while maintaining habitats for the forest animals.

But then along come IKEA and Apple, buying their own forests to supply the raw materials for build-it-yourself dorm desks and elegantly designed iPhone boxes. And in doing so, they assert that they’re serving as an example to corporations everywhere about how to manage a forest.

IKEA just acquired an 83,000 acre forest plot in Romania so it can sustainably manage wood supplies for its furniture, as prices are expected to rise over the coming years for various reasons, including the housing recovery in the US.

The Swedish furniture brand is trying to increase the wood it uses by only 50 percent by optimizing its product designs to make the best use of trees, the Wall Street Journal reports. Meanwhile, it aims to double the volume of products it sells by 2020 compared with 2012.

Interestingly, IKEA purchased a 33,600-acre section of this forest land from Harvard University’s endowment, which was getting heat for a corruption case involving one of the contractors who helped oversee the land, according to the Harvard Crimson

IKEA also plans to switch entirely to sustainable lightbulbs in coming years—which the forest animals are sure to appreciate.

Meanwhile, as previously reported by brandchannel, Apple is bringing its sustainable approach to the forest as well.

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest land transfers in history,” said Apple’s Lisa Jackson about the company’s purchase of 36,000 acres of forest in Maine and North Carolina, as reported by Forbes. The area happens to include the old Maine stomping grounds of iconic environmentalist Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. 

“In the last 15 years, we’ve already lost 23 million acres of forestland that provided the pulp, paper and solid wood material for products we all use,” Jackson wrote. “As land continues to be sold and change hands at an alarming rate, an estimated 45 million more acres are currently in the crosshairs of development.”

Apple bought its forests and plans to run them in line with the Working Forest Fund (WFF) Conservation Fund, whose “work is to create limits on how those working forests can be used beyond producing paper products,” according to Gizmodo.