IKEA giant furniture and home goods stores cover the globe. You can get almost anything you want from IKEA, whether you need a new bed or a giant bag of meatballs. But just how sustainable is IKEA? Their products certainly look environmentally friendly, but is their sustainability purely aesthetic? Keep reading to find out! 

Introducing More Plant Foods

IKEA recognizes that 25-35 percent of greenhouse emissions come from food-related industries, specifically animal agriculture. Therefore, IKEA has clear plans to make most of its food plant-based. By 2025, the retailer hopes to have 50 percent of their restaurant food and 80 percent of their packaged food be vegan. Considering just how many people rave about IKEA’s food selection, this is exciting. They acknowledge that making healthy and sustainable choices available and delicious-looking is the best way to get customers to try them. 

Source: IKEA/Youtube

Their plant-based meatball, HUVUDROLL, was released in August 2020 as a vegan alternative to their famous Swedish meatball. The plant ball has 4 percent of the climate footprint of a traditional meatball.  

Sustainable Materials

Source: Bloomberg Quicktake: Originals/Youtube

IKEA has gone to great lengths to become a circular business, meaning that the materials used for products come from preexisting sources. They want all their products to have the potential of becoming circular, which means no single-use plastic or virgin wood that’s tossed into a landfill after a few years of use. 

The retail giant plans to become 100 percent circular by 2030. This means they will only use renewable or recycled materials. Methods of circular capabilities in the supply chain are currently being developed. 

IKEA also uses a lot of cotton and has made efforts to source the fiber ethically. They signed the Uzbek Cotton Pledge, which demonstrates they avoid using cotton produced by forced laborers in Uzbekistan. IKEA is also a part of the Better Cotton Initiative, meaning they help promote ethical and sustainable cotton farming practicesThey also plan to be carbon-neutral by 2030. 

Are They Ethical? 

According to the Ethical Consumer, IKEA has had a few issues with treating its employees fairly. In a single year, IKEA was brought to court five times for age discrimination lawsuits. They have also discouraged workers from unionizing, which would help them protect their rights as employees. IKEA said the workers’ job security would be at risk if they were unionized. There have also been cases of exploitative working hours, unsafe working environments, and low pay. 

In March 2021, IKEA went on trial in France for spying on their employees after setting up a surveillance system that collected personal data on staff around the country. 

Final Thoughts 

The most serious issue with IKEA has to do with how it treats its employees. In terms of making physical changes to lower emissions and reduce waste, IKEA’s goals and the steps they’ve taken exemplify how much they care about becoming an eco-friendly company. However, the most eco-friendly option will always be not buying anything at all or finding a secondhand alternative. 

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