Ikea goes greener by buying its own forests.

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It’s a simple idea, if you want to control every aspect of your green credentials, when it comes to wood, then buy a forest.

Ikea have been very vocal about their commitment to sustainable and low-cost production, so it’s no surprise they have purchased woodland in Romania – 33,600 hectares – and the Baltics to coordinate there own forestry management and wood production.

They also own 10,000 acres of woodlands in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It’s estimated they have invested over €100m so far in woodlands, by buying forests it means they can control timber costs too.

They can also been investing in renewable energy and biomaterials,

Romania thus becomes the first country in which it has the whole cycle, starting with its own timber resources, furniture production via its direct cooperation with Romanian suppliers, and ending with the retail business via its stores.

Ikea also plan to alter the density and thickness of certain designs. Recycled wood is becoming a larger part of Ikea’s manufacturing and designs. They have also been working on optimising their product designs to make the best use of trees.

IKEA designs some of its Norden series tables so they use the tops of trees and irregular-looking bits that wouldn’t otherwise be used.

The Skogsta range is made of Acacia, a type of tree that is light blond in the middle and darker on the outside – the range use both shades of the wood, rather than just the dark wood, which the furniture industry has historically used.

By 2020 they aim to use only recycled or certified sustainable timber (by the Forest Stewardship Council) in all of their products – so far, about 50% of the wood it uses meets either criteria.

Ikea’s commitment to becoming greener and more ethical is more than PR hype.

They stopped using plastic bags. They are investing over $70m in clean technology start-ups, like solar. They recycles 84% of the waste generated in stores.

When a country introduces stricter emission rules, IKEA imposes the new restrictions on its global operations. As a result, Ikea’s policy reflects the strictest emissions policies in countries across the world, even though it sometimes drives costs higher.

IKEA’s sustainability initiative, IWAY, focuses on four areas: products and materialssuppliersclimate change and community involvement.

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However, Ikea has not been without criticism.

China is a major source of materials, providing 22% of IKEA’s sourcing and a country that is hard to audit.

The retailer used the equivalent of about 530 million cubic feet of wood last a year, excluding paper and packaging.

They produce a lot of cardboard boxes, probably more than anyone in the UK, much of which ends up in landfill rather than recycling bins. However, one creative company has come up with an ingenious consumer engagement idea that can reduce this by 70% called ‘Upp Cykle’ (not yet adopted by Ikea).

Ikea were banned from logging in the Karelia forest in Russia after the Forest Stewardship Council accused an Ikea subsidiary of violating its sustainability agreement because it was claimed to be ‘logging old forests that have high conservation value’.

There are no lack of eco-critics who shoot holes through Ikea’s claims.

However, big corporations can also make big differences when they turn their mind to it, and there is no doubt that Ikea is going in the right direct, for whatever reason.

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  • KEVIN GORDON

    Well, It’s a highly impressive step in the right direction. Progress, not perfection, but I’m sure there’s more to the story about the Ikea Subsidiary that we don’t know about. It’s difficult to get anyone on board with such gigantic projects, but if they are looking after and managing forests responsibly rather than mindlessly tearing them down like they are in the Amazon, let’s hope they get to Brazil before the Developers completely demolish it with stadiums in the middle of Jungles otherwise, like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and the Lake District, there will be nothing left for our children in the year’s to come.