How to be sustainable? “Just get started,” says Ikea ESG chief
At the Ocean Conference, Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld, global head of sustainability at retailer Ikea, spoke exclusively to EXAME about reducing carbon emissions, impact on people and other company sustainability practices.
The Swedish furniture and home decor company Ikea is one of the darlings in Europe not only for its products with minimalist design, but also for the business model that considers sustainability in the operation and in the chain. In a strategy called People & Planet Positive, or People and Planet Positive, in free translation, there are goals to be met by 2030 that look from the circular economy to the promotion of a better life.
In this context, Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld, global head of sustainability at Ikea, participated in an official panel of the Oceans Conference, an event promoted by the UN in Lisbon, Portugal. On the occasion, the executive spoke with EXAME exclusively about how the company intends to reduce its carbon footprint, invest in technologies and promote the ESG agenda (environmental, social governance).
How is Ikea putting sustainability at the heart of the business?
We have a strategy that is integrated into business decisions and everything we do considers sustainability. This is based on three pillars to be achieved by 2030: helping at least 1 billion people to have more sustainable lives at home with our products, being a positive climate in order to have a circular business, and creating social impact throughout value chain. This means that it is possible to be a company that continues to grow, with diversity, and that also considers these pillars in the businesses from whom we buy.
How will Ikea reduce the operation’s carbon emissions?
I look at the supply and logistics area in an integrated way, which is responsible for transporting all inputs and products. This area of the company, for example, is central to decarbonization as it involves trucks, trains and even maritime transport.
So, we are working to reduce our carbon footprint by an average of 70% in absolute terms of logistics operations when compared to 2017 emissions. We are focused on reducing, rethinking and replacing items of the operation, because 2030 is just around the corner. A clearer example of how we are doing is with the shift from fossil fuels to cleaner options.
Sustainability is about business integration, considering innovation and technology that allows us to be assertive. Furthermore, we need collaboration because we are not going to make this sustainable economic transformation alone.
Despite not selling in Brazil, is the country part of the sustainable supply strategy?
Other colleagues can confirm this information, but it is important to stress that all countries must be on the sustainability journey. Brazil has the Amazon and other biomes and we are, for example, always looking to buy sustainable and certified wood that does not contribute to deforestation.
What is the importance of being at the Oceans Conference and how does the company deal with the topic?
It is very important to be here and to see people from all over the world talking about how to manage problems to find solutions for the oceans. It is necessary for us and other private companies to be here because the Conference deals with the perspective of how the different actors in the system are essential and how we will only achieve change together.
In 2018, for example, the Ikea announced a commitment to remove all single-use plastic products by 2020 and became a member of NextWave, an initiative that engages leading technology and consumer-focused companies, scientists and NGOs to integrate ocean plastic into consumer products in a scalable way. This is a small step if we think about the entire industry.
What is your tip for companies that want to be more sustainable?
Just get started. Change is urgent.