IKEA Australia Is Making Progress in Sustainability

IKEA warehouse
IKEA warehouse

IKEA is the perfect example of a company using innovative practices to go . Their goal to use 100% renewable solar energy by 2020 is admirable, to say the least.

IKEA products require almost one percent of all the wood that is commercially harvested in Australia. However, the company aims to use only renewable solar energy for all of its operations by 2020. Moreover, it aims to source all of its cardboard, wood and paper only from 100% sustainable sources – a focus on going solar is becoming apparent.

According to Dr. Kate Ringvall, the Country Manager for IKEA Australia, sustainability has been at the heart of IKEA from its inception and it still is a very important issue for the company. This includes solar energy as well. Keep in mind that this country manager has more than 20 years of experience in the environmental career – including on solar projects – and has been employed in both the Local and the Federal Government. Ringvall already stated the she has a very good insight into what makes IKEA different and how to reach the sustainability goals (including solar energy production) by the year 2020.

IKEA, founded in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, serves more than 900 million customers all over the world. The company’s Democratic Design principles govern every aspect of its operations.

IKEA warehouse
IKEA warehouse

What is this Democratic Design?

According to Dr. Ringvall, there are five principles to the Democratic Design: quality, form, low price (or at the very least, cost efficiency), function and, of course, sustainability (currently the aim is solar energy). According to IKEA, it does not produce anything that does not meet these five very rigorous criteria, so solar is an important part of their target.

In addition to thinking about who makes their products and how their products are made (using sustainable energy sources like solar), IKEA is also thinking about what happens to these products at the end of their life. This is why they have established Soft Landing, a company that recycles mattresses and provides jobs and training opportunities to help people out of poverty. The company aims to expand this to sofas and other types of furniture in the near future, and many of its projects aim to use solar energy.

Under Ringvall’s supervision, IKEA is making changes to use fewer resources (it already produces green solar power) and reuse as much as possible when it comes to the resources it typically utilizes. Their products must come with a low price and an even lower impact on the planet (this is why solar is in focus at this time). And this is just one of the company’s targets.

On a global level, IKEA has spent impressive resources for renewable energy – like solar power. The company has already invested $2.25 billion and plans to invest an additional $900 million – much of which will be invested in solar projects. IKEA buildings feature over 700,000 solar panels and the company already has 327 wind turbines fully functional, in addition to the solar capabilities. Also, the company only sells LED lights in its stores. The SOARE (renewable place mats) are already a big hit, according to IKEA. Some of the company’s products – such as the Kungsbacka – are already made out of only reclaimed industrial wood and recycled PET bottles. And the manufacturing process uses solar energy, at least in part.

IKEA is also replacing oil-based expanded polystyrene (EPS) with materials that are fiber based, and 100% recyclable. In addition, the company has started to allow clients to order online and already has 18 pick-up points in regional centers. Many of these points are powered by solar energy from solar panels.

Australia’s population is expected to grow from 24 million to 70 million in the next 100 years. IKEA is aware of this and has already presented a co-living community that has a shared dining space and features solar panels. People attending Sydney’s Millers Point – where the solar-powered co-living community was unveiled – were very enthusiastic about the project.

Space 10: Growroom

Space10 from Copenhagen, Denmark (a future-living lab) recently presented a Growroom that is fully functional and that shows how cities can produce food using food-producing architecture which includes solar panels. Space10 is dedicated to producing as much as possible from smaller spaces and adapts its designs to an urbanized future (solar panels don’t require much room). The Growroom has received a lot of interest from local government, as well as from citizens (the plans were downloaded over 20,000 times already). The government is trying to find new ways to build sustainable housing that uses solar energy effectively, and that is also affordable. According to Space10, Growroom is not only for individuals, but also for entire families and even school communities. People can share resources (including solar energy) without impacting nature, in a 100% sustainable way.

Food Is Precious

IKEA also has another major global initiative: Food is Precious. In addition to increasing its solar capabilities, the company aims to cut food waste by at least 50% by the year 2020. According to the company, the wasted food can literally feed the world. IKEA aims to meet the needs of all of its customers, but wants to use as few resources, and waste as little food as possible – all while producing as much solar energy as possible. The innovative approach to this target makes the company stand out from the rest. Most other companies don’t even focus on solar energy.

The multinational company is proud of its accomplishments so far. Their values inspire people to work together, care for each other, and use renewable energy – including solar – efficiently. Furthermore, the company has managed to hold on to some of the quintessential cultural values of the Swedish society.

According to Dr. Ringvall, the company never says, “We can’t do that.” IKEA is always about making things happen, like they did and are doing with their solar projects. Nothing is impossible for the company and the brilliant minds behind its sustainability program and its solar energy programs are working hard to make sure the company’s operations disturb Planet Earth as little as possible. The goal of relying on 100% renewable energy – like solar power – by 2020, coupled with IKEA’s other ambitious projects (such as producing solar energy from different sources), make this company unique. Of course, IKEA has focused on getting into solar power generation and storage market in the United Kingdom with innovative home storage battery system and solar panel products – home solar market expansion could certainly be in the future. Solar news that comes out of companies such as IKEA is sure to be interesting and more futuristic as time goes on!






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