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IKEA’s Latest Climate Target: Glue

Swedish furniture brand IKEA is switching to a new adhesive to meet its climate targets, underscoring how small changes can have a measurable impact.

Inter IKEA – which owns the IKEA brand, develops its products and manages its supply chain – said around 5% of its value chain’s carbon footprint comes from fossil glues in its particleboard and fibreboard, which is used in products like cupboards, wardrobes and shelves. It said Wednesday it aims to eliminate 40% of its fossil-based adhesive in the panels by fiscal 2030, which could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 percentage points depending on future business growth.

A factory in Kazlu Ruda, Lithuania will be the first to use a bio-based glue made from corn in industrial facilities rather than the food chain. IKEA is also testing other bio-based adhesives. The changes are part of IKEA’s efforts to meet its goal of using only renewable or recycled materials by fiscal year 2030.

“It’s not an easy transformation. We’re saying that the industry has been using the same adhesives for 60 years and that this adhesive has been optimized in terms of performance and cost for 60 years,” said Venla Hemmilä, materials and technology engineer at IKEA in Sweden.

IKEA started looking for alternatives to fossil-based adhesives more than a decade ago, but found lower-carbon, bio-based adhesive Options were too expensive and the industry was not well prepared for delivery them. Today there is still a premium for bio-based adhesives, but it is not expected to be passed on to buyers and should fall as production increases.

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The company expects biomaterials to become more cost-competitive versus fossil-based materials in the coming years. IKEA hopes that its manufacturing presence will accelerate this cost reduction through greener alternatives and that other companies will follow suit. For reasons of competition, she did not want to give the names of the green glue suppliers.

Glue became a focus of the group after 2016. This year IKEA looked at how its climate targets were aligned with the Paris Agreement and outlined how they could grow the business while reducing their emissions, said Andreas Rangel Ahrens, Head of Climate at Inter IKEA Group.

Andreas Rangel Ahrens, climate chief of the Inter IKEA Group.


Photo:

Inter IKEA Systems B.V

“It’s so easy to set goals, but how do you actually understand the implications and what to ride?” said Mr. Rangel Ahrens.

To address this challenge, Mr. Rangel Ahrens said that IKEA conducted a breakdown analysis of the sources of its carbon footprint, including production, materials and food. It also hired consultants to carry out life cycle assessments of certain materials. In fiscal 2022, according to IKEA, 52% of emissions came from the materials in its products, with the second-highest contribution coming from people using its products at home, at 14%, followed by production, which accounted for around 8%.

Businesses often use spending metrics, like goods purchased, to calculate the carbon footprint of their materials. Instead, Mr Rangel Ahrens said that IKEA uses weight because it allows them to measure changes in a material, such as weight. B. Recycled and renewable content.

For example, when IKEA looked at its particleboard and fibreboard, it estimated the emissions coming from transport, forestry and energy, among other things. It turns out that around half of the material’s emissions come from the glue used to bind the wood chips and fibers together, meaning that fossil-based glue is responsible for around 5% of IKEA’s carbon footprint, said Mr. Rangel Ahrens.

This detailed approach to breaking down a product’s footprint allows sustainability teams to identify specific areas for other parts of the organization to work on. “We’re not just telling them to cut supplier emissions by 80% and go fishing,” said Mr Rangel Ahrens. We tell them what to focus on and then they actually know what to do instead of just dropping a very ambitious goal on their lap, he said.

The company has also reduced emissions with other targeted changes including plant-based meatballs, a bookshelf that uses paper foil instead of veneer, and the move to LED lightbulbs. It is also investigating how to add bio-based ingredients to coatings.

“It is very important to us that sustainability is not a luxury for a few. It must also be available to people on a tight budget,” said Mr. Rangel Ahrens.

Write to Dieter Holger at [email protected]

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