Wood is a fantastic material: flexible and beautiful, durable and renewable. Ever since IKEA started, we’ve used wood as a raw material. We’re a global company and have a great responsibility to ensure that our production has a positive effect on people and the environment throughout the world. That’s why our goal for 2020 is that all wood which we use is to come from more sustainable sources. With the ÄPPLARÖ series, we’ve already achieved this goal – by finding various new wood species to work with.
Today we’ve achieved the goal that all the wood which we use for our outdoor furniture comes from more sustainable sources, which means that it is certified or recycled wood. The transition has been a given for us at IKEA, but it has also been a challenge.
Much of the wood used for our outdoor furniture comes from Southeast Asia, where it has been difficult to gain a good insight into the entire process from forest and sawmills to the factory. But through close cooperation with suppliers and local authorities, we’ve achieved the result, says Ulf Johansson, who works with wood supply and forestry.
"More sustainable forestry requires perseverance and long-term thinking, since profits are not achieved quickly, and many of our growers are small companies with limited resources. But we have been able to support them in this process both financially and in terms of knowledge-sharing", says Ulf.
Outdoor furniture must be durable, and throughout history, teak, which is a very hard wood, has been a popular choice of material. But the availability of teak produced in a more sustainable way is far too small, so to achieve our goal, we started looking for alternative wood types. Ove Lindén is an engineer and was working for IKEA in Malaysia when he discovered acacia's positive qualities in the early 2000s.
"At the time it was not used to furniture, but was grown mainly for the paper industry. But when we saw people also made fence posts from acacia, we supposed it was resistant to rotting and durable ‒ and would also suit outdoor furniture. In addition, it has a beautiful colour tone, just like teak", says Ove, and explains how acacia, which grows mainly in Malaysia and Vietnam, is grown on plantations where IKEA can have a good overview of the entire necessary production chain.
Today, we use acacia for, among other things, ÄPPLARÖ, one of our most long-living outdoor furniture series. Over the years, new items have been added, and today ÄPPLARÖ is found in outdoor environments throughout the world. Ove Lindén has a theory of why it has become so long-lived.
"It's a timeless and neutral series that suits many surroundings. In addition, over the years we’ve been able to streamline production and thereby keep the price down."
The discovery of acacia has made us curious about finding more wood species from sustainable forestry. The journey continues towards higher quality and increased durability ‒ for you who use the furniture, yet also for people and the environment throughout the world where our furniture is manufactured.