We don’t design flat packs to sell more but to save more. Flat packs mean optimised loads and fewer transports, which reduces emissions. Our use of recyclable packaging requiring minimal raw material helps, too. Brown cardboard is one of our best friends – it saves costs and the environment.
Some things can’t be compromised - safety, respect for people of all ages, the environment. We call it IWAY (The IKEA Way on Purchasing Products, Materials and Services). It’s our code of conduct, and it specifies the minimum requirements we place on suppliers. It also describes what they can expect from us in return. IWAY includes zero tolerance for child and forced labour; safe, healthy working conditions; compliance with local laws; care with chemicals – and more. IKEA co-workers are often on site at suppliers, to ensure that our requirements are met. We work to motivate and support suppliers to take increased responsibility themselves. Since we introduced IWAY in 2000, we can see a continuous positive development – more than 100 000 improvements have been made so far.
We don't accept illegally felled wood, or wood harvested from intact natural forests. We're working with suppliers to improve their ability to trace the origin of the wood they use - a requirement for all suppliers of solid wood.
Our long-term goal is to source all wood for IKEA products from forests certified as responsibly managed. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is so far the only forest certification standard supported by IKEA. We also have our own forest specialists working in the field. They inform, share knowledge and trace timber back to its origins at suppliers. IKEA work together with WWF to promote responsible forestry and to
fight illegal logging.
The ’IKEA Goes Renewable’ project means that all IKEA buildings will move towards being supplied with 100% renewable energy for electricity and heating and we will improve energy efficiency by 25%. We are making progress: we’re at 47% renewable energy and we’ve achieved a 14% energy efficiency improvement since 2005.
The IKEA catalogue was the first major colour publication in the world to be printed on Totally Chlorine Free paper. The bleaching technology in the paper and pulp industry has developed and today we know that a harmful substance in the bleaching process is elementary chlorine. Due to that, we use papers in a mix of both TCF and ECF in order not to involve elementary chlorine.
Our ambition, working closely with our paper and printing suppliers, is that all the paper used in the catalogue comes from forests that have been certified as responsibly managed. In 2008, 74% of wood fibres came from certified forests. We’ve moved to a new compact format for the IKEA catalogue, to reduce paper consumption and cut transportation needs. A bonus: CO2 emissions per copy will be lower with the new streamlined catalogue format.
Every year, millions of people eat at IKEA restaurants. And even here we’ve got an eye on the environment – at least one organic dish is offered in all IKEA restaurants and 15% of all products in the Swedish Food Market are certified organic.
Many markets are sourcing organic food for their national menu in the restaurants; for example IKEA Italy has around 70 organic ingredients used for restaurant food preparation, ending up on the plates as delicious dishes.
The “Waste Management Manual“ for the IKEA group was established in 1999 requiring all stores to sort the five most common waste items, at a minimum. In practice, this ensures that almost 75% of the waste is sorted in the stores and more than 80% is (at the end of life) recycled or used for energy production.
In 1997, IKEA developed a new type of particleboard specially aimed for furniture in co-operation with other furniture and particleboard producers. With this new material, the use of raw material was reduced by 85 816 tons. Annually, this resulted in 2 800 less trucks for transportation due to lower cargo weight, easier handling of the merchandise for the customers and reduced costs and prices.
We never use optical brighteners in the textiles used in IKEA quilts and pillows. Quilts and pillows must not contain hazardous substances and we always try to minimise the use of chemicals. Whenever practicable, we apply the strictest health and safety requirements on any of our sales markets to all markets.
KLIPPAN sofas are one of our most popular and long-lived products. They are also one of the bulkiest, making them hard to transport in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner. Just a few years ago we made KLIPPAN a knockdown piece – which means the armrests and back slip into slots in the seating base. Suddenly each pallet could fit twice as many sofas. Transports dropped sharply, and costs and carbon dioxide emissions decreased.
LACK side table is one of the first IKEA product made from strong and rigid wood-based frames filled with recycled, honeycombed paper. LACK uses less raw material than particleboard, is more lightweight and thus easier to handle both in our transport chain and for our customers.
BESTÅ is made from board-on-styles (BoS), another strong and light material that minimises the use of resources. Just like LACK, it has a honeycombed paper filling, but the production technique is more efficient. Long strips of particle board or MDF are laid out on fibreboard sheets of up to 250 by 500 cm, the paper filling is placed between the strips and then topped with another thin layer of fibreboard. The construction is then cut to the product’s final shape and dimensions before being lacquered or veneered.
The IKEA patented Loading Ledges are a smart alternative to traditional wooden pallets. Instead of a pallet’s rigid platform, ledges are flexible, expanding and contracting to the size of the load. The Loading Ledges are made from polypropylene plastic that is continuously recycled and made into new ledges. Their size and shape are optimised for containers, so load units are easily handled with forklifts. Thanks to ledges’ low weight, containers can be loaded with two tons more goods than if wooden pallets were used.
Together with WWF, we are running Farmer Field Schools in Pakistan and India. Cotton farmers learn how to use water more efficiently and how to handle essential pesticides and artificial fertilisers in ways that are safer for both people and the environment. The Schools have generated positive results for sustainable cotton production – in Pakistan the average use of pesticides has dropped 48%, the use of fertilisers by 32% and the water use went down 40%. At the same time earnings for farmers have increased by 87%.
Our food is really tasty, but it does happen once in a while that some of it ends up as left-overs on a customer's plate. That doesn't mean it's thrown away. At some of our stores in Sweden, Norway and Denmark we grind up food leftovers in a mill and store them in a special tank. The food waste finds its way to a special treatment centre where it gets reused, as biogas to run buses on.
Our Starbase is a huge innovation, allowing us to stop transporting a lot of the air normally present in big and awkwardly shaped office chair packaging. VERKSAM swivel chairs are one of the first to be re-launched with a new Starbase assembly system where the five legs in the base snap together at the centre. It’s quick and easy for the customer, and the chair is just as stable and sturdy. Meanwhile, the number of VERKSAM chairs transported per container has nearly doubled which lead to less CO2 emissions. And soon lots of other office chairs will follow VERKSAM.
At the IKEA store in Corsico, Milan, 304 geoprobes penetrate the ground to a depth of 87 to 125 metres – 30 kilometres of drilling in total – over a 10,000 square metre area. Yet, this geothermal system has no lasting impact on the landscape, since it’s completely underground. Thanks to three heat pumps, the system supplies 1,600 kW thermal power and 1,400 kW of refrigerating power. That’s a savings of 300 tons of petroleum per year, or 800 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
In 1999, we switched all goods transport from the central warehouse in Älmhult to the stores in Stockholm from road to rail. The trains run on electricity generated from renewable energy sources. Today one train with 15-20 fully loaded wagons leaves Älmhult for Stockholm every day.
KASSETT magazine files are made from 80% recycled paper, and now arrive to our customers flat folded. This means more files per truck, for less impact on the environment (and a better price). Each pallet now holds five times as many KASSETT. CO2 emissions from transporting it have decreased 75%.
In 2005, IKEA Social Initiative donated 18 000 NORDEN tables to Unicef in Liberia and Burundi. They were great support to the school enrolment drives and are now used in schools. IKEA Social Initiative can when possible make In-Kind donations.
The majority of SYLT jams are part of IKEA FOOD’s expanding range of organic products, sold in the Swedish Food Market in IKEA stores. Organic agriculture excludes the use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides, and strives to maintain biodiversity and ecological balances. Our global range offers 20 organic food products.
Formaldehyde is a common chemical compound present in for example water, fruit and wood, but it can also be added through industrial processes. To avoid health problems, there are strict requirements of formaldehyde emissions from furniture. We want the formaldehyde emission levels in IKEA wood products to be equal to the levels of natural wood. So, first we cut formaldehyde-based lacquers (1993) from our products. Next, we removed formaldehyde from glue systems used to glue veneer surfaces on furniture. DAVE laptop table, for example, has a fibreboard top that has contributed to cutting formaldehyde emissions by nearly 40% in recent years. The levels are now significantly below EU requirements.
IKEA cooperates with WWF on projects aimed at reducing the impact on the climate.
One example is that IKEA and WWF - together with selected suppliers in Poland, Sweden and China - are creating a casebook of good examples for how suppliers can save energy, money and become less reliant on fossil fuels for manufacturing, heating and cooling.
We also cooperate by doing pilot studies in the United Kingdom, China and the United States that aim to promote sustainable modes of transport in partnership with local authorities, businesses and organisations. The learnings can then be spread to other markets.
IKEA Norway’s Slependen store gets 80% of all its heating and cooling energy from its own geothermal installation. Eighty geo wells underneath the store’s parking spaces make this the third biggest geothermal installation in Scandinavia.
SAGOSTEN inflatable children’s floor cushions are made from polyolefin, a smooth and durable plastic without the chlorine and other harmful additives found in the more commonly used PVC. Use of PVC is banned from IKEA products since the early nineties. The only exception is electrical cords, where no viable alternative is available – yet.
The soft, densely woven fabric in IKEA 365+ RISP bed linen is made from 50% cotton and 50% Lyocell. Lyocell is a renewable cellulose-based material derived from wood fibres from tree farms (which use less water than cotton farms). Also, the necessary chemicals in IKEA 365+ RISP bed linen production process are recycled in a closed system to minimise environmental impact and waste.
Lee, a co-worker in one of our Californian stores, came up with a way to improve the packaging of ALÄNG table lamps. Lee discovered that the box could be shrunk as much as 30 percent if only the lamps components were rearranged. So, Lee tipped off IKEA packaging technicians in Sweden who in turn conferred with suppliers. Now, thanks to a great initiative and teamwork, each pallet holds 24 ALÄNG lamps compared to only 18 before.
IKEA products shall be free from questionable substances. We use only water-based and UV-based lacquers in IKEA products. UV coating is a coating system where monomers (a molecule) are hardened to a coating when illuminated with UV light. Almost all flat furniture’s surfaces are UV coated, and that is an alternative that minimizes the harmful effects to health and environment.
In collaboration with a national environmental organisation, all Italian IKEA stores provide free seminars to IKEA Family Members about responsible energy use. Together with Italian energy retailers, about 800,000 “energy saving packs” were given free to IKEA clients with both energy saving bulbs and water saving tools.