Last week, IKEA announced that it will soon have the resources to generate enough renewable energy—and even some extra—to power all of its factories and retail locations worldwide. Some years back, it made more sense for IKEA to buy and install its own technology instead of purchasing the power from a supplier. Now with that clean energy tech in place, and as it becomes cheaper with increased popularity, the company is only gaining speed.
"We’re a year ahead of schedule," says Pia Heidenmark Cook, chief sustainability officer for the IKEA Group, according to an article from Fast Company.
IKEA already has more than 700,000 solar panels fixed to its roofs and 450 off-site wind turbines. The brand also purchased two huge solar plants in the U.S. and a wind farm in Romania. In anticipation of new growth and a profitable model for a clean-power future, the bigger vision is to now scale up to a carbon-positive operation in the wholesale interest of sustainability across the board.
"It’s profitable to work with wind and solar," says Cook. "It’s a good business case. So there is that part of it, and also, of course, it’s the right thing to do. We believe that the future is renewable."
To compliment its recent feats, IKEA is now focusing on responsibly sourced materials, influencing customer buying behaviors, and even toying with a furniture leasing offering that will soon be available in 30 countries. It hopes to shift completely to recyclable and reused source materials within the next decade.
"We’re re-analyzing the material that goes into the products: Which ones are heavy on carbon? Which ones have the biggest footprint?" she says. "Are there alternative materials today, or do we need to innovate to find new material?"
Materials cause, by far, the biggest carbon-footprint for IKEA, and they're tasking up for the challenge. "We’re progressing with the tests and learning more and more to see how can we maintain ownership of products and make sure the products live not only one or two times, but many times," says Cook.