Sustainability a 'Never Ending Job' for IKEA

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The IKEA flat pack system is one of the many innovations the company touts as minimizing waste and improving the energy efficiency of its products. Photo: Flickr/ajdavis

IKEA, notably known as the largest purveyor of home furnishings worldwide, recently released its 2009 sustainability report, cleverly named “The Never Ending Job.”

Mikael Ohlsson, president and CEO of the IKEA Group, says the furniture giant is “obsessed” with minimizing waste. “This will continue to be our compass in years to come, and we will stimulate new thinking and innovation in our sustainability work,” he writes in the report.

Worldwide, IKEA’s stores saw 590 million visitors during the year, and the company continues to promote sustainability around the globe. For example, 50 million low-energy bulbs have been purchased at IKEA in the past three years – an energy savings equivalent to the output of four and a half nuclear plants.

Moving forward, the report outlines that each of IKEA’s business strategies must “clearly and systematically integrate sustainability” into daily operations.

Here are some of the highlights from the FY 2009 report:

– Of the 2009 goal to recycle, reclaim or use materials for energy production, IKEA distribution centers were the most efficient and the only facilities to meet the 90 percent mark.
– In U.S. stores, about 67 percent of waste is sorted and recycled. In addition, the remaining waste in some markets is used for energy production. U.S. stores significantly impact the IKEA footprint, as they rank No. 2 with 11 percent of the company’s overall sales.
– Overall, 49 percent of IKEA’s energy requirements came from renewable sources.
– To reduce cost and carbon output from travel, IKEA conducted 52,000 web meetings involving 170,000 participants during FY 2009.
– In partnership with American Forests, IKEA planted over 1.3 million trees in dedicated spots in U.S. parks and forests. These tree plantings came from IKEA $1 dollar customer donations and the IKEA plastic bag phase-out program.
– The company reduced its carbon emissions by 5 percent.
– The amount of renewable materials in IKEA’s products was about 71 percent. Towever, this missed the year’s goal of 75 percent.

In addition to the annual report, IKEA is now beginning its “Never Ending List” which will be updated throughout the year to document improvements throughout the company and currently contains more than 60 “improvements.”

Read more:
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