IKEA, the planet’s largest furniture retailer, has announced it will shift to 100% renewable energy by 2020. By that time, it will also grow more trees than it uses under a broad-based plan to safeguard nature that has won strong support from environmentalists.
The Swedish retailer is oriented to addressing many of its customers’ desire for a greener lifestyle. As such, on Tuesday, officials stated the company by 2020 would limit sales to only energy-efficient products, including induction cookers and LED light bulbs.
“This will be a great driver of innovation,” said Mikael Ohlsson, chief executive of the firm, to Reuters in an interview.
IKEA will invest €1.5 billion ($1.95 billion) from 2009-2015 in solar and wind power to produce at least 70 percent of the group’s energy. By 2020, it expects to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes.
The company’s commitment to renewable energy is stunning. IKEA presently owns wind farms in six European nations and has already installed 342,000 solar panels on its stores, warehouses, and factories. In total, these generate 27% of the group’s electricity.
By 2020 IKEA plans to grow at least as many trees as it uses to make products such as beds or cupboards. Already, IKEA says it does not take wood from natural tropical forests, such as in the Amazon or Congo basins.
To this end goal, IKEA would buy 10 million cubic meters of wood by 2017 — half the projected total for that year and four times current amounts — from sources such as those certified by the non-profit Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
This aggressive plan positions IKEA as a leader among companies that have made a long-term commitment to environmental sustainability. Reuters reports that environmentalists, including Greenpeace UK, give solid backing to the plan. IKEA said other environmental experts had praised the strategy, including leading conservation organization WWF and the UK-based Climate Group think-tank.
Importantly, IKEA also set stricter targets for palm oil, leather, and cotton supplies. It will tighten bans on child labor and enforce workers’ rights, partly with unannounced audits of suppliers. The company will also ensure greater supplies of clean water in communities where it operates, cut waste, and promote recycling.
IKEA predicts the number of visitors to its stores will total 1.5 billion by 2020.