Climate change remains a severe issue as renewable energy is still not at the forefront of most business activity. New research last month has found that the temperature in the Antarctic exceeded by 15 degrees to 20 degrees over the period of 1958 to 2012. However, IKEA is one company that have responded to this with their long term sustainability measures. 2016 has seen their strongest sustainable effort yet. The IKEA Sustainability Report for fiscal year (FY) 2016 shows strong progress towards its People & Planet Positive strategy and continued long-term investments in sustainability. IKEA has now allocated over €3 billion for sustainability investments. This includes a financial frame of €1 billion to secure a long-term supply of sustainable materials by investing in forestry as well as companies active in recycling, renewable energy development and biomaterial developments. This figure also includes the €1.5 billion invested in wind and solar energy projects since 2009 and €600 million allocated for further investments in renewable energy. In a critical time for climate action, IKEA achieved its target to produce as much renewable energy as the energy it consumes in its operations by 2020.
What sustainable initiatives have IKEA used over the last year?
With new wind farms in Poland and the US becoming operational during the year, IKEA produced renewable energy corresponding to 71% of its energy use. There are more than 700,000 solar panels installed on IKEA buildings worldwide and they operate wind turbines. 50% of wood is sourced from more sustainable sources and by 2020 this figure is expected to be 100%. In our 5 minute interview with Puneet Trehan, the Material and Innovation Development Leader for Polymers at the company said: “I would say one big thing that is lacking today in the industry is that companies need to develop technology further and commit to greater investment.” Whereas, IKEA show no signs of slowing down their investment in sustainable operations. In their 2015 sustainability report they announced that sustainability would be prioritised as one of the four cornerstones of their business strategy, as well as a key part of their global and national business plans.
Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA said: “We have made significant progress towards our People & Planet targets, but there is still more to do. We want to lead with passion and purpose towards a more sustainable and equal world.”
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Not only do IKEA want to have power over their own renewable operations, they also want to extend this to their customers. The Swedish firm have pledged that they want to inspire and enable their customers to live a more sustainable life at home. The company has transformed its entire lighting range to LED and in FY16, sold almost 80 million LED bulbs. If they all replaced incandescent bulbs, they would save enough energy annually to power almost 650,000 households for a year. “There are many opportunities ahead for forward-thinking businesses to contribute to, and benefit from, the development of the low-carbon economy. Guided by the IKEA vision, to create a better everyday life for the many people, we are determined to have a positive impact on people and the planet.” Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO, IKEA.
Moving forwards, IKEA are set to make big changes by 2020 as they aim to make certain areas of the business 100% sustainable. Two large focuses will be cotton and LED lighting. Trehan also stated that: “our sustainable efforts are already worldwide. However, in 2020 all the Plastics Category products that we sell should be made with recycled and renewable plastics. Our next objective is to be driving a very strong example to encourage customers to use our products, because in five years’ time there will be a lot more competitors in the industry. Therefore, more customers will expect to have more affordable and sustainable products. I am hoping that a significant amount of the foams that we use now for sofas and mattresses will be made from polyester fibres and bio-based polymers. Of course the products will still be comfortable but more sustainable. And finally, we are always looking into what is happening in the whole of the industry to give us an idea about the latest home furnishings. It is important to take an outside perspective and find out what is going on to predict change."
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