IKEA's plans to build their largest retail store in the southern hemisphere, have apparently just received New South Wales government approval to proceed. Reports suggest it will require a short stroll of just 2.5 km (1.6 miles) to wander from the store's front entrance, past all the famous flat-pack merchandise, to the cash register. This store will be 37,000 square metres (for comparison, the largest IKEA in Stockholm is said to cover 50,000 sq m).
There are several intriguing environmental aspects to this announcement, which we explore below.The site for the store is a reclaimed landfill, known locally as Tempe Tip, so this is interesting redevelopment of a long term, degraded industrial site.
For this writer probably the most curious aspect of the location is that it will right next door to what I think is NSW's largest Salvation Army 'op shop.' Established at this location since 1910, this famous opportunity shop, or thrift store, is part of "one of the largest urban recyclers in the Southern Hemisphere."
Whilst we have mentioned many times on these pages (see links below) many of the environmental initiatives undertaken by IKEA worldwide, there does seem to be a certain delicious irony in having the biggest new household goods retailer, immediately adjacent the largest second-hand goods retailer.
Especially when IKEA highlighted a report suggesting "that 77 percent of consumers have such a big problem with clutter it contributes to wasting the equivalent of an entire room of space in their homes and up to A$217,390 in mortgage payments."
Will people donate their old solid wood 'clutter' to the Salvos, and then go next door to buy a new chipboard veneer version of the same thing? The mind boggles.
For no matter how many eco projects IKEA pursue, their furniture will never be greener than the pre-loved pieces obtained from the Salvos, as they are known, colloquially, in Australia.
Not only that, but this particular Salvos Store has signed up to the local council's and NSW government's 'Sustainability Challenge' program. To date they have recorded a 15% reduction in electricity use, as well a catalogue of goods recycled, like 49 tonnes of metals, 32 tonnes of cardboard, 165 tonnes of paper. As well as salvaging over 1,000 multi-use milk crates and sanitising more than 1,000 to make them suitably clean for resale.
IKEA will have their work cut out, being as good community citizens as the Salvos. But that's not to say they can't pull a few good rabbits out of the hat.
For example, their massive store in Logan, Queensland won environmental design awards, due to the fact that it flushes it toilets and waters it's landscaping from harvested rainwater stored in two 300,000 litre tanks. They also improved air conditioning efficiency by 60% through the use of 'chill beams', and overall cut their energy consumption by 20%.
From a building design and use perspective IKEA wanted to do even better than the Logan store. As the above chart, supplied as part of their sustainability statement(PDF) indicates, IKEA are said to be interested in a long term sustainable outcomes for the site and will be looking to the Tempe store to:
"represent a sustainability benchmark for a Bulky Goods / retail project in Australia as
well as a global benchmark for IKEA."
Will IKEA also win over the local community, by getting involved in nearby projects, say, helping clean up Alexandra Canal which is directly south east of the site, and has long been "recognised as one of the most polluted waterways in Australia."
And the location is immediately adjacent to the Princes Highway, Australia's Highway One which circumnavigates the continent and a major arterial road. And in this case it's only 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the Central Business District (CBD) or 'downtown' of Sydney. Already cause for major traffic congestion. Add in a popular retail store, with planned car parking for 1,700 to 2000 gas guzzlers, and you have one huge traffic management headache. Maybe they'll offer a free shuttle bus to the railway station on the other side of the highway?
Time will tell, but either way, this is shaping up to be very interesting juxtaposition between two retailers, who might be considered 'green', but for quite different reasons.
Photo credits: Top image The Age and map from Google.
More IKEA Environmental Actions
• IKEA Goes Dark For Earth Hour (But Not In The USA)
• IKEA's Social Initiative Debuts New Wall Hangings
• IKEA Puts $U.S. 75 Million Toward Cheap Solar
• Danish IKEA Intros Fleet Of Trailer Bikes To Get Those Flatpacks Home
• IKEA Bans Plastic Bags for Good
• IKEA Village Without the Allen Key
• IKEA's environmental background
• IKEA Management to Get Hybrid Company Cars
• IKEA Has Worms