Selling more, but using less
There’s an irony in how Ikea—a company whose business is selling stuff, and lots of it—is turning the millions of customers who visit its stores every day into accidental environmentalists. By buying Ikea’s products, consumers also are inadvertently buying into the Swedish furniture giant’s mission to reduce the footprint of everything it sells.
Ikea views its environmental impact as a problem that can be solved with design. Take wood, which shows up in about two-thirds of the company’s home furnishings. In its fiscal 2016, Ikea used 2% less of the material than it did the previous year, despite selling more wood products. One way was by using dual-density particleboard in its iconic Billy bookcases, which cut down on materials by 20%. Ikea’s design work is also helping customers use fewer resources at home. All of its kitchen faucets now have an aerator. The feature mixes in air with the pressure flow to achieve the same feeling of wetness while using 40% less water.
The green design mindset has paid off too. Sales of sustainable products were around $2 billion in fiscal 2016, and Ikea is targeting about $3 billion by the middle
of 2020. —B.K.