Ikea achieves zero-waste-to-landfill status in the UK

The world's biggest furniture retailer has announced that it sent zero waste to landfill across all of its UK and Ireland facilities in 2016, achieving a 90% recycling rate in the process.

Ikea UK’s 2016 sustainability report, released on Monday (16 January), revealed that, from 1 September 2015 to 31 August 2016, zero waste from facilities was sent to landfill. The report also reveals that Ikea UK is operating with a 90.6% recycling waste and that 9.4% of the 33,944 tonnes of waste produced was used for energy recovery.

“Sustainability is important to everyone at IKEA – it’s part of our day job whichever department we work in. The entire business is focused on making our ambitions reality and it’s fantastic to witness such positive change over the last year,” Ikea UK’s head of sustainability Joanna Yarrow said.

“We’re looking forward to working together with customers and co-workers in 2017 to find even more ways to live more sustainably and make a big difference to both people and the planet.”

Ikea UK’s positive waste management work did hit a few challenges along the way: the firm saw a 12% increase in food waste in 2016 – up to 951 tonnes – but the report notes that all of this food waste was processed to make biogas for energy production or fertiliser. More than one million products were also returned to UK stores due to transportation damage, customer’s changing their mind and missing parts. A recovery and repair department ensured that these products were, however, re-packaged and sold in-store at discount prices in an effort to minimise waste.

Holistic progress

The report goes on to highlight that renewable energy continues to play a prominent role in Ikea’s operations. In total, 43.4% of the company’s UK energy use was generated from renewables; leaving just four years for the company to hit a target to produce as much energy from renewables as it consumes. For 2016, Ikea UK generated 48.9 GWh of renewable energy, the majority of which derived from wind sources.

Ikea’s global sustainability report, released in December, highlighted a near three-fold increase in ‘sustainable life at home’ products since 2013, taking the company 70% of the way to its target of achieving a four-fold increase in sales by 2020. The company is now striving to promote sustainable living to its customers through this initiative and recorded a 13% increase UK sales for these products, totaling £76.8m. Products such as LEDs have helped households save a collective £19.5m in energy bills, avoiding 42,317 tonnes of emissions in the process.

Ikea also invested into the second year of its Live LAGOM programme – a three-year project with charity Hubbub aimed at helping individuals reduce waste and energy consumption while living a healthier lifestyle. The investment into the programme was aided by a €3bn investment in sustainability by IKEA Group.

The firm is looking to practice what it preaches to consumers through expansive store openings and retrofits. Ikea opened its Reading store in July 2016, achieving an “Excellent” BREAAM rating. The store currently acts as Ikea’s most sustainable store to date but could be challenged by a store in Sheffield, due to open this year, which will be Ikea’s most energy-efficient ever.

Ikea’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard has previously called on the UK Government to deliver, “long, loud and legal” policies to aid companies with the transition to a low-carbon economy. Howard claimed that companies that don’t embrace the low-carbon transition would “wither away”, while those attempting to drive change would need to communicate with policymakers to create enabling and long-lasting frameworks.

Matt Mace

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