IKEA commits to halve food waste by 2020

The world's biggest furniture retailer has today (19 June) launched a new smart device-based initiative which aims to cut in half the amount of food waste in its operations by 2020.

The Food is Precious scheme will see smart scales implemented at restaurants, bistros and food markets across the IKEA global estate. A floor scale, connected to a touch screen, will carry a waste bin to measure wasted food. The data collected is set to enable IKEA colleagues to find solutions to prevent food being thrown away.

More than 20% of global IKEA stores have applied the food waste system already, resulting in a reduction of 79,200kg of food waste, equal to 341,000kg CO2 saved, which corresponds to 473 flights between Stockholm and London.

IKEA food services AB managing director Michael La Cour said: “It is very encouraging to see the initial results of the Food is Precious initiative! Thanks to engaged co-workers and the measuring solution, we see up to 30% food waste reduction already after a few months.

“I am following the development closely and hope it can encourage others to start thinking about food as a precious resource.”

‘Natural step’

The Food is Precious initiative was piloted in the UK, which has rolled out the food waste solution across all stores since December 2016. It is calculated that the majority of UK & Ireland stores have already reduced their food waste by between 20% and 45%.

A survey performed at stores that have applied the smart scale device reveals that more 70% of IKEA food staff are proud of the initiative, with 50% are taking household measures to decrease food waste.

“I am proud of IKEA Food co-workers across the country that have really embraced this initiative and we also hope to inspire our customers to think differently about food waste,” IKEA UK & Ireland country food manager Lorena Lourido said. “This is a natural step in the overall work we do as IKEA retailers, being a responsible company that cares for people and planet.”

Championing resource efficiency

IKEA has also today become a member of the Champions 12.3 coalition – a partnership of 30 government, business and civil society leaders from around the globe. The group aims to accelerate progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 – to halve food waste and reduce food losses by 2030.

Ikea has moved to promote resource efficiency in recent years. The company sent zero-waste-to landfill across all of its UK and Ireland facilities in 2016, achieving a 90% recycling rate in the process. Last month, the Swedish firm launched its first UK-based textile take-back pilot, offering consumers in Cardiff the option to hand in unwanted purchases to be reused, repaired or recycled.

Earlier this year, the retailer unveiled a new range of kitchen fronts made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles and reclaimed wood, eliminating the need for virgin, oil-based plastics in the range.

George Ogleby

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