Green Retail with IKEA

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA recently published its UK annual summary for the financial year 2023. Detailed within the document, IKEA outlined its recent sustainability wins and future targets. We took a closer look and picked out some key points.

IKEA

“In 2023 we remained resolute in achieving our goal of becoming climate positive by 2030 and continued to make progress on reducing our environmental impact and contributing to a sustainable future. From improving energy efficiency across our stores to reducing waste and increasing our recycling rates. We have also been transforming our delivery operations with a £4.5 million investment in nationwide electrical charging infrastructure which will help us to get to 100% zero emissions deliveries by 2025,” highlighted Peter Jelkeby, CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA UK.

“These initiatives all contribute to the UK’s climate commitments and pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As we navigate this transformation, we require steadfast leadership and guidance. We urge government to uphold their commitments and retain the Net Zero targets in 2050 and carry through key sustainability policies. The transition to Net Zero isn’t just a wish, it’s what our customers and co-workers expect of us, for the sake of the future of our planet and economic prosperity.”

Management team portrait shoot at IKEA Wembley 5/6/22

Some key stats include:

  • 100% of our electricity comes from renewable sources
  • 13,960,263 kWh produced by our Dummunies wind farm – enough to power three IKEA stores for a year
  • 515,419 plant balls sold
  • 50% reduction in food waste compared to 2017
  • 532,347 spare parts given out
  • 52,380 items brought back throughout our buy back and resell scheme, an increase of 187% from 2022.

In 2023, IKEA says it has made great strides towards the ambitious goals previously set across a number of areas of the business. 

Reducing waste

“We are prioritising actions to prevent, reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Most of the waste we produce is mainly packaging material. The rest includes product waste from damaged products, food waste from our restaurants and cafés and a small amount of other waste,” adds Peter. “Each of our stores has a Working Group that brings together coworkers from across the business to help us reduce waste (including operational waste, product waste and food waste) and drive circular resource flows.

“We track monthly progress and calculate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our waste to understand our climate footprint. We aim to reduce our operational waste and are striving for 100% recycling of waste generated in our operations by 2030.”

IKEA’s waste reduction initiatives have helped to reduce total waste by 5.6% in 2023 compared with 2022. In the UK, it now uses AI technology in stores to track food waste from store kitchens. This has enabled IKEA to reduce food waste by 50% compared to 2017.

Energy efficiency

“The biggest impact we can have on our IKEA UK operational climate footprint is to transform IKEA UK to renewable heating and cooling by 2030,” says Peter. This has been completed in three stores by utilising air source and ground source heat pumps. This transition is currently underway in four more stores.

In 2023, IKEA achieved a 6.9% reduction in energy use, through the roll out of a national energy efficiency initiative. EcoPilot, a part of its wider energy efficiency initiative, aims to reduce energy consumption, without compromising the customer experience of its stores. The solution improves the indoor climate by boosting energy storage capacity and optimising internal heat sources, resulting in energy savings of 20% to 40%. EcoPilot also takes the local weather forecast into account, including the outdoor temperature, wind direction, sunshine hours and precipitation. This optimises energy consumption across the entire heating and cooling system. “We started out with trials in just three of our stores, the project is now live in eight stores,” Peter added. “Looking ahead, our focus turns to investments in Renewal Heating and Cooling Equipment, which are expected to significantly decrease our climate footprint in the years to come.”

EV charging infrastructure

IKEA previously announced a £4.5 million investment in nationwide electrical charging infrastructure as part of its goal to reach 100% zero emissions deliveries by 2025. This will be one of the biggest EV charging infrastructure projects for last mile fleets in the UK. So far, IKEA has installed 102 out of 196 chargers which will be located at IKEA stores across the country. At the newly opened Dartford Distribution Centre, it has installed 28 rapid HGV chargers and an additional 60 chargers to deliver overnight charging.

Putting secondhand first

Every year, millions of pieces of second-hand furniture go to waste. To combat this, the company is buying back used IKEA furniture to give chairs, shelves or chests of drawers as many lives as possible. With Buyback & Resell, customers sell us used IKEA furniture they don’t need and get IKEA in-store credit to refresh their home. In 2023, 52,380 items were brought back through the Buyback & Resell scheme, an increase of 187% on last year. The secondhand furniture brought in by customers is re-sold in its Reshop & Re-use areas, located in all of its stores and online. In 2023, IKEA sold 38,723 products from Re-shop & Reuse, while to date, 12,432 items have been sold on its Re-shop & Re-use online platform alone.

Furthermore,in November 2023, IKEA launched a new mattress removal and recycling scheme in collaboration with The Furniture Recycling (TFR) Group. TFR Group diverts 100% of the mattresses it collects or receives from landfill, by deconstructing them manually using specialist cutting tools – enabling the materials. IKEA also hosted its first ever car boot sale in Milton Keynes and Cardiff stores back in September. It is another way the business has tried to bring affordability and circularity together, providing customers with an opportunity to sell and buy second hand items.

Let’s Go Zero partnership

In 2023, IKEA continued to support Let’s Go Zero, a coalition campaign led by climate solution charity Ashden. “By giving school leaders the tools and resources to become more sustainable, the campaign is gathering momentum and has engaged over 100 local authorities, who have the potential to reach over 6 million young people,” Peter said.

“This year we ran a competition for member schools to help their teachers and pupils do more to tackle climate change. Following a raft of applications from schools across the UK, we are now working with the winning four schools to bring their visions to life through our products, solutions, coworker expertise and funds. Projects include school swap shops to reduce waste and preventing uniforms and other clothes ending up in landfill.”

Lagom

Lagom means “just enough” in Swedish. This is IKEA’s digital and in-store behaviour change programme that encourages customers to enjoy this Swedish approach to life and supports the concept that living sustainably is easy, affordable and desirable. The programme provides workshops and online resources to offer customers and co-workers tips, advice, inspiration, and community support.

Alongside this initiative, IKEA’s People and Planet product range showcases simple solutions to help customers live a more healthy and sustainable life. In 2023, 214 households participated, with the commitment to maintain, repair or upcycle furniture increasing from 50% to 76%. Furthermore, 96% of people said that living a Lagom lifestyle would be good for their wellbeing.

Final thought…

“As we look ahead to 2024, our commitment to achieving ambitious sustainability goals is unwavering,” Peter added. “We believe additional investments in the business and a continued dedication to caring for both people and the planet will be integral to shaping a more sustainable future for all.”

www.ikea.com

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