Ikea to ban single-use plastic, go 'climate positive' by 2030

Ikea rapid charger photo
CC BY-ND 2.0 Northern Ireland Executive

If you're going to go for it, you may as well REALLY go for it.

When Ikea made a climate pledge more impressive than Sweden's, their Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard made a compelling case for why it made business sense:

"A 100 percent goal is easier than 90 percent, or 50 percent. Because when you go for 90 percent, everyone in the company always finds a way to be in the 10 percent."

This philosophy appears to be continuing, as Ikea just announced a bold update to its sustainability initiatives in an effort to become "people and planet positive" by 2030. Among the commitments are:

1) Designing all IKEA products with new circular principles, with the goal to only use renewable and recycled materials
2) Offering services that make it easier for people to bring home, care for and pass on products
3) Removing all single-use plastic products from the IKEA range globally and from customer and co-worker restaurants in stores by 2020
4) Increasing the proportion of plant-based choices in the IKEA food offer, like the veggie hot dog launching globally in August 2018
5) Becoming climate positive and reducing the total IKEA climate footprint by an average of 70% per product
6) Achieving zero emissions home deliveries by 2025*
7) Expanding the offer of affordable home solar solutions to 29 IKEA markets* by 2025

Each of these commitments could justify a TreeHugger article all of their own. But a few in particular jump out as significant.

The removal of all single-use plastics, for example, comes at an important time when companies, monarchies and even entire countries are stepping up their near-term efforts to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics from their operations. Ikea joining this battle across its entire global presence ensures that momentum will continue in communities across the world.

The focus on plant-based meal alternatives is also worthy of note, because while cutting back on meat and dairy may be the single biggest thing we can do for the climate, it still tends to get short shrift in terms of legislative or corporate action compared to items like renewables or efficiency.

The commitment to zero emissions deliveries is also likely going to have an outsized impact—and would appear to be a continuation of Ikea's involvement in EV100. In the same way that RE100 (the coalition of corporations committed to 100% renewables) has helped to inoculate renewables from the turbulence of national energy policies, corporate commitments like this should help ensure long-term stability for electric vehicle demand—especially in the currently fuel-inefficient world of commercial freight deliveries.

And finally, I think it's worth noting that Ikea doesn't just intend to become "carbon neutral". Instead, alongside their goal to cut their own emissions/impact, they are actually pushing to leave a positive net impact above and beyond their own operations. This, I think, is something that all of us could learn from. While environmentalism has traditionally pushed us all to do less harm, the sheer scale of the challenges we face means that all of us—individuals, companies, communities and countries—should really be looking beyond reducing our own footprints, and seeing how big a positive legacy we can leave in terms of helping others to reduce their impact, and in repairing the damage that has already been done.

Bravo Ikea. Let's hope other companies take note.

Ikea to ban single-use plastic, go 'climate positive' by 2030
If you're going to go for it, you may as well REALLY go for it.

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