Growing share of FSC certified wood in the IKEA range
Wood is one of the most important raw materials for IKEA and the company is making good progress towards its 2017 goal to source 50% of the wood used in the range from “preferred sources”; FSC certified wood or recycled wood. At the end of April 2013, the share of certified wood in the IKEA range had reached 31.2% %, up from 22.6% at the end of August 2012.
“If our total wood consumption lands at 14 million cubic metres round wood equivalent (RWE) we should have sourced more than four million cubic metres of FSC certified wood. It’s safe to say that IKEA now is one of the retailers with the largest FSC volume in the world,” says Anders Hildeman, adding that IKEA uses almost 1% of all wood used commercially around the world.
Much of the FSC certified wood purchased by IKEA comes from Poland and Sweden, but some is also sourced in Russia and China where support to increase FSC certification has been a priority for the partnership since the start in 2002. Since then, joint projects have contributed to multiplied certified forest areas in China, and helped making Russia the world’s second largest country by certified forest areas although FSC certification was introduced here only 13 years ago.
“The work we do with WWF to increase the availability of FSC certified wood is important, and we are seeing some good results. many of the countries we source from cannot supply sufficient volumes of certified wood. One must remember that forest certification is a lengthy process – it takes years to achieve, especially when forest management starts from a low level,” says Anders Hildeman.
George White believes increased consumers demand would help motivate forest owners and companies to speed up developments: “Today only around 12%* of the Swedes know what FSC stands for, while the recognition is higher in countries like the UK and Germany.”
According to the FSC, Germany had a 28.2%* prompted recognition of the FSC label in 2011, and 43%* of people in the UK recognize the FSC logo. In Russia, where FSC certification was first introduced in 2000, the FSC label recognition was less than 7%* in 2011.
*Source: FSC Market Pack info 2012
No FSC label on IKEA furniture
Still, IKEA remains reluctant to use the FSC label on its home furnishing range, with the exception of some outdoor furniture. The company argues that its own logo stands for products that are safe and produced with respect for people and the environment, but this is not the only reason why the company has chosen not to use any labels for certification of social and environmental responsibility on its home furnishing range.
“IKEA is a global company, and the logistical challenge to ensure that a product is made from 100% FSC certified wood is enormous. A kitchen table can be manufactured in several countries by different suppliers and may consist of a combination of wood-based materials – solid wood, veneer, particleboard and even cardboard – that in turn are sourced from multiple sub-suppliers in regions with only limited access to FSC certified wood,” explains Anders Hildeman.
Still, WWF intends to keep pushing for FSC labelling:
”We want IKEA to use the FSC label. We understand the challenges associated with labelling products made from mixed materials, but labelling is a crucial step to support the transformation to a more sustainable forest sector,” says Marcus Albers, Manager Corporate Partnerships WWF Sweden.
Looking into paper and packaging
IKEA uses wood not only for its solid wood and wood-based board products, but also for paper and packaging. Around 85% of the signature brown cardboard flatpacks are made from recycled wood fibres and almost 70% in the IKEA Catalogue is made from FSC certified chain of custody fibre. However, no collated figures are available concerning the fibres in office paper, toilet paper, napkins and the many other paper types used by IKEA worldwide.
“Looking into this is a huge job as it involves so many paper products and because decision making and purchases are spread across so many people all over the world, but we have recently recruited a dedicated resource to start this process,” Anders Hildeman reveals.
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