* IKEA to invest $1.5 bln in solar, wind power by 2015
* Company to become "forest positive" by 2020
* IKEA to limit sales to energy-efficient products from 2016
By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle
OSLO, Oct 23 IKEA, the world's largest furniture
retailer, will shift to renewable energy by 2020 and grow more
trees than it uses under a plan to safeguard nature that has won
support from environmentalists.
The Swedish-based group, which wants to build on many
customers' desire for a greener lifestyle, also said on Tuesday
it would limit sales by 2016 to energy-efficient products
including induction cookers and LED light bulbs.
"This will be a great driver of innovation," said Mikael
Ohlsson, chief executive of the firm which is known for its
flat-packs and giant stores that are expected to be visited by
776 million people this year.
Ohlsson told Reuters he had no doubt the "People & Planet
Positive" strategy would save money both for IKEA and its
clients, although he declined to estimate total savings.
Under the plan, IKEA will invest 1.5 billion euros ($1.95
billion) from 2009-15 in solar and wind power to produce at
least 70 percent of the group's energy. By 2020 it would produce
as much renewable energy as it consumes.
IKEA already owns wind farms in six European nations and has
342,000 solar panels on its stores, warehouses and factories
that generate 27 percent of the group's electricity.
"We are a little under half-way in terms of investments" to
the 2015 goal, said Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer.
The company would also halve its greenhouse gas emissions from
its operations by 2015, from 2010 levels.
By 2020 IKEA, one of the world's top users of wood, will
grow at least as many trees as it uses to make products such as
beds or cupboards. Already, IKEA says it does not take wood from
natural tropical forests, such as in the Amazon or the Congo
BACKING THE SHIFT
By 2017 it would buy 10 million cubic metres of wood - half
the projected total for that year and four times current amounts
- from sources such as those certified by the non-profit Forest
Environmentalists backed the shift. John Sauven, head of
Greenpeace UK, said it "puts IKEA at the forefront of leading
companies" trying to transform their businesses in the face of
Mark Kenber, head of the UK-based Climate Group think-tank,
said IKEA's plan was a roadmap to a "clean industrial
revolution" and urged other businesses to follow.
Both Kenber and Greenpeace confirmed the remarks, provided
by IKEA. The firm said other environmental experts had praised
the strategy, including the WWF conservation organisation.
Many companies, from chip maker Intel Corp to
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, are setting green goals and moving
towards renewable energy as part of efforts to combat global
warming and ensure supplies.
As part of the shift to energy-efficient products, induction
hobs use 40 percent less energy than conventional cookers.
IKEA announced the shift to LED lighting, which can last 20
years, earlier this month. Changing all 12 billion incandescent
bulbs worldwide to LEDs would cut global greenhouse gas
emissions equivalent to those of the Netherlands.
A shift to more efficient appliances, such as fridges,
cookers or lightbulbs, would reduce energy use by the average
household by 30 percent. "That is like having a 10 percent pay
rise for most people," Howard said.
IKEA also set stricter targets for palm oil, leather and
cotton supplies. It would tighten bans on child labour and
enforce workers' rights, partly with unannounced audits of
suppliers. The company would also ensure greater supplies of
clean water in communities where it operates, cut waste and
IKEA predicted the number of visitors to its stores would
double to 1.5 billion by 2020, and forecast a potential 45-50
billion euros in turnover, up from 27.5 billion for 2012.
It predicted the number of stores would rise to 500 from 338
and that staff numbers would rise to above 200,000 from 154,000.
Ohlsson said IKEA had freedom to act partly because it is
not listed on a stock market. "We are owned by a foundation, it
means also that our whole focus is customers throughout the
chain and not stock exchange and owners," he said.