Ikea has recorded a year-on-year decrease in its total carbon footprint, despite expanding its operations, for the first time in its history.
The world’s largest furniture retailer revealed in its latest sustainability report that its global carbon footprint across all scopes decreased 4.3% in absolute terms during the 2019 fiscal year.
During the same period, sales grew by 6.5% as the firm continued to expand its operations.
In contrast, Ikea’s global carbon footprint across all scopes rose by 2.8% during the 2018 fiscal year, with the firm admitting it was not, at the time, able to decouple emissions and growth.
Inter Ikea, Ikea’s parent company, details in the 2018-19 report how an increase in renewable energy sourcing for stores and manufacturers helped the business to decouple emissions from growth. Ikea is aiming to use 100% renewable energy across its global operations by 2030, with an interim aim for 100% renewable electricity by 2025.
In fiscal year 2018-19, Ikea met 57% of its store energy consumption and 46% of energy consumption in manufacturing using renewable generation.
Ikea sources its renewable electricity through a combination of onsite arrays – like the solar roof at its new Greenwich location, an 18,240-panel rooftop solar solution on Ikea’s Industry production unit in Portugal and an innovative solar cooling system at its Alexandra store in Singapore – and through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with external projects.
As for harder-to-abate energy sources, such as transport and heat, Ikea is collaborating with external partners to bring more innovative solutions to maturity and scale and working to move deliveries onto already electrified networks, like trains in Sweden and e-cargo bikes in urban areas, by 2025.
A further trend that has helped Ikea to reduce emissions, the report notes, is its work to make its lighting and appliances more energy-efficient. The retailer, unlike some, does account for the in-use emissions of its products in its climate calculations – and places this source of emissions at 20.2% of its absolute global footprint.
Inter Ikea’s chief sustainability officer Lena Pripp-Kovac said the fall in emissions is a “milestone” and “good news, especially since we know that we need to do so much more to reach our commitments for 2030.”
Ikea’s 2030 sustainability strategy, People and Planet Positive, commits the retailer to becoming a net-positive business across all aspects of environmental and social sustainability.
It is headlined by commitments to generate more renewable energy than Ikea consumes; mitigate and sequester more carbon than the business value chain emits, and eliminate materials that are not from renewable or recycled sources from products and packaging.
The new sustainability report details progress towards all of these ambitions, and the broader scope of the strategy.
On carbon mitigation and sequestration, the report highlights Ikea’s recent £171m investment package in clean energy and nature restoration schemes. The funding is being used to tackle non-renewable generation for heating and cooling, and to contribute to projects that remove and store carbon through reforestation and responsible forest management
In order to deliver these forestry projects, Ikea has said it will collaborate with NGOs and other businesses to “achieve scale and maximum impact”. Since announcing the investment package, it has confirmed WWF as a key partner.
As for the resource impact of products and packaging, the report confirms that Ikea stopped ordering all single-use plastic home furnishing products in January 2020. It will sell through the remaining stock in line with existing national policies, but will not restock once supplies run out.
It also notes that Ikea is on track to switch to 100% recycled polyester in textiles by the end of 2020, having achieved a 59% proportion in August 2019.
Regarding broader circular economy initiatives, the report claims that 80% of Ikea’s home furnishing projects have now been assessed and approved against its circular design principles. Away from the design stage, Ikea is set to upscale trials of new models of furniture rental and refurbishment, the report confirms, and to expand its take-back offering for furniture and textiles recycling.