The Ikea Group has a total of 280 stores in 26 countries* and operations in 41 countries. The group includes industrial suppliers Swedwood, and Swedspan.

Ikea’s new chief sustainability officer is Steve Howard who says his aim is to incorporate sustainability into every part of Ikea’s activities – from raw materials to production to inspiring customers to make more sustainable choices.

The company has set out five priorities for sustainability for which they are setting specific goals leading up to financial year (FY) 2015.

The five goals are:

1.Offering a range of products that are more sustainable

2.Taking a leading role towards a low carbon society

3.Turning waste into resources

4.Reducing Ikea’s water footprint

5.Taking social responsibility

The company is investing in renewable energy for Ikea buildings, specifically in wind and solar with a long-term plan to supply all Ikea buildings with 100% renewable energy.

Current strategy up to FY15 includes implementation of a plan to install solar panels on around 150 stores and distribution centres.

In FY10 the number of buildings with solar panel systems nearly doubled, from nine to 17, and the company expects the number to increase to around 40 buildings by the end of FY11.

Ikea has also increased its investment in wind turbines in France and Germany, with 52 turbines installed or in the process of being installed and connected to the power grid.

These installations are expected to generate around 95 GWh, the equivalent of 10% of the total FY09 electricity consumption in Ikea buildings.

New construction projects incorporate one or more renewable sources of heating. All new stores in Sweden are being fitted with geothermal heating and cooling systems, and more than 25 Ikea units worldwide have been fitted with biomass boilers since FY05. Solar hot water heating systems are installed at more than 50 IKEA sites.

The savings on energy costs is expected to cover investment costs in only two years.

Steve Howard said: “The world is in an era of unprecedented growth with populations in the world’s cities swelling by more than one million people every week.

“Quite simply, sustainability can no longer be an optional, luxury item in a society heading towards nine billion people.

“Living a more sustainable life must be affordable and accessible for everyone. Our products and services should have no negative impact on the planet, but preferably have positive impact and generate zero waste and zero carbon.”

You can read Ikea’s full sustainability report here.

*(Figures accurate on 31 August 2010)

Alison Brown

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie