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IKEA Spreads Sustainability with 'People & Planet Positive' Initiative
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October 24, 2012

IKEA Spreads Sustainability with 'People & Planet Positive' Initiative

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

The Delft, Netherlands-based IKEA Group, is spreading the word about its ambitious, new sustainability strategy called People & Planet Positive. The three-pronged strategy will offer ways for customers to live a more eco-friendly life, improve energy efficiency within the IKEA Group and help to support human rights worldwide.

Steve Howard, the chief sustainability officer of the retail home furnishings chain, founded in Sweden, said, “We believe that sustainability should not be a luxury good – it should be affordable for everyone. With over 770 million visitors to our stores, we are excited by the opportunity to help our customers fulfill their dreams at home with beautiful products that help them save money on their household bills by reducing energy and water use, as well as waste. People & Planet Positive will also enable us to take our responsibilities in the supply chain further over the coming years by—for example, only using renewable energy to power our buildings and advocating for children’s rights.”

IKEA describes its triple-threat (or triple-benefit) People & Plant Positive program as:

  • Inspiring and enabling millions of people to live a more sustainable life at home, offering products and solutions that help customers to save money by using less energy and water and reducing waste. Examples include converting all lighting to LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs that last for 20 years and use up to 85 percent less electricity; offering the most energy efficient home appliances on the market at the lowest price; creating low price, functional and easy-to-use solutions for sorting and minimizing waste, and using less water at home.
  • Becoming energy and resource independent within the IKEA Group, which includes producing as much renewable energy as is consumed in the company’s retail stores and facilities— building on the €1.5 billion (US $1.8 billion) already allocated to wind and solar projects. It also includes improving the energy efficiency in IKEA Group operations by at least 20 percent and encouraging suppliers to do the same. What’s more the company intends to further develop its product line, to make everything branded IKEA more sustainable—for example, by ensuring that all core home furnishing materials, including packaging, are renewable, recyclable or recycled.
  • Taking the lead in creating a better life for the people and communities in which IKEA does business, which includes supporting the development of good places to work throughout the IKEA Group supply chain —by encouraging suppliers to focus not only on compliance, but also on shared values. It also includes going beyond the immediate reach of the supply chain and helping to support human rights.

“We want to create a better every day for the many people. A better life includes living more sustainably. We have been working toward that goal for many years and already have done a lot, and we are now ready to take the next big step. People & Planet Positive will help us to do that; transforming our business and having an even greater positive impact on the world,” commented IKEA Group President and CEO Mikael Ohlsson.

The company’s green goals including using resources with the utmost efficiency and turning waste into value. Only renewable energy will be used in IKEA Group operations; while safe chemicals and responsible stewardship of forests, water and farmlands will be the base of its supply chain. In the United States, IKEA has increased the number of solar installations to 34 stores and distribution centers, with five more underway;–which represents a 90 percent solar presence nationwide. What’s more, there are 33 electric vehicle charging stations at nine stores in western United States.

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In related news, last month in New York City, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) joined forces with the IKEA Foundation at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting to launch an ambitious effort to reduce diarrhea deaths among children in Kenya and one of the poorest states of India—Madhya Pradesh. The partnership aims to save the lives of nearly 40,000 children by 2015 by increasing access to the most effective treatment – zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS). To achieve these ambitious goals, CHAI will partner with local and national governments in both countries and with private businesses, particularly in India, that currently deliver the majority of diarrhea treatments.

Currently, diarrhea is the second leading killer of children under five globally, responsible for over 800,000 deaths a year. Zinc and ORS are able to prevent over 90 percent of diarrhea-related deaths and cost less than $0.50, yet fewer than 5 percent of children globally are currently using the complete treatment.“I am thrilled that the IKEA Foundation and the Clinton Foundation are working together to make simple medicines like zinc and ORS available to millions more children in need,” said CHAI President Bill Clinton. “This effort will save tens of thousands of lives.”

"Every child deserves to see their fifth birthday. And there is no reason that a child should die of diarrhea when it can be easily prevented with ORS and zinc. By working with CHAI, IKEA Foundation will ensure thousands more children are receiving these life-saving medicines – and reaching their fifth birthday," said IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes.

Other partners active in the initiative include Abt Associates, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JSI, MCHIP, Micronutrient Initiative, MSH, The MDG Health Alliance, PATH, PSI, RESULTS and USAID.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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