IKEA eliminates waste disposal costs across UK and Ireland

Retail giant IKEA is now recycling 85% of its waste across all of its 19 stores in UK and Ireland, and has become 'cost-positive' in the process with no disposal costs.

Speaking at WRAP’s annual conference yesterday (November 15), IKEA’s sustainable development manager Charlie Browne said the company had reduced the cost of its waste management operations year-on-year to a point where it could become revenue-generating.

“We are not spending money on waste disposal anymore,” he told delegates. He said that effective waste management and prevention could potentially account for up to 10% of a company’s net profit in terms of cost savings.

Browne added that waste prevention didn’t have to be complex – by implementing napkin dispensers that only allowed customers to take one napkin at a time, IKEA saw a 40% reduction in napkin use in its restaurants, resulting in annual cost savings of £50,000.

He also highlighted IKEA’s widely publicised plastic carrier bag charging scheme, which led to a 95% reduction in carrier bag use – saving some 300 million bags over six-and-a-half years, and generating £3M cost savings in the process.

Browne said the company was now looking beyond zero waste to ‘positive waste’ by taking back more waste than it generates through its operations. “The big question now for us internally is how do we go through that 100% recycling barrier?” he added.

Maxine Perella

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