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10/15/2014 | 1 MINUTE READ

IKEA’s Sustainabilty Efforts Will Soon Become Yours

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Many retailers and OEMs are replacing greenwashed sustainability platitudes with real-live actively managed plans to reduce the impact of their businesses on the environment—and since these efforts extend up and down the supply chain, they’ll soon be dropped on your desk.

If you want a good example, peruse furniture maker IKEA’s 2013 sustainability report. The company has stated a number of sustainability goals for its operations and projects, including a 2015 plan for all its “main home furnishing materials” to be made from renewable, recyclable or recycled materials.


Home furnishing materials, including packaging, were composed by 91 and 98 percent renewable, recyclable or recycled materials in 2012 and 2013, respectively, showing how close the company already is to the 2015 marker.  


How is it getting there? Here are a couple of examples that directly involved suppliers of plastics goods, as well as packaging:


By setting our own goals for sustainability, we can have a positive influence on our suppliers too. Until recently we used thousands of tonnes of plastic shrink film, which was difficult to recycle. We challenged our shrink film suppliers to find a solution, and with our support they did. New types of film now in use are not only strong but also use less plastics and can be recycled to be used again as a raw material.


And another, this time directly related to a product:


The KAJUTA table lamp uses 75% less material than its predecessor, TALLVIK. It contains 35% reused or recycled materials, is 100% recyclable and easily stackable making it more efficient to transport.


These efforts extend to closing the loop on various material streams, including plastics:


One effort focused on polyethylene plastic wrapping which was collected from stores, recycled and used as a raw material to make desk pads. We discovered that recycled wrapping is a viable raw materials that costs less than buying virgin or recycled material from other sources. We also learned about practicalities such as keeping the material clean in store and at our supplier, as well as improving the efficiency of collecting and transporting the wrapping…further pilot recycling projects are underway with other materials including polypropylene and corrugated cardboard.


The ultimate goal, by the end of fiscal year 2020, the company has said it hopes to see a fourfold increase in “sales from products and solutions for a more sustainable life at home.”


That’s real money, and reflects real opportunities for plastics processors who can help IKEA and like-minded companies achieve such goals. Has your shop been asked to help an OEM or retailer get greener?