In line with the move being made by environmentally conscious organizations and institutions, IKEA has committed to the end the use of single-use plastics by 2020. This move will see the company minimizing the carbon footprint of its products, while protecting the marine ecosystem in the long-term.
What’s It All About?
IKEA recently voiced its intention to phase out the use of single-use plastic products in both its shops and restaurants by 2020. This move will affect such items as plastic shopping bags, plastic straws, plates, cups, garbage bags, freezer bags, as well as plastic-coated paper cups and plates (Kottasová). The company will not only stop selling these products, it will also stop issuing them with freshly prepared food. This move is aligned with the mission to be people and planet positive in the next 12 years. This also comes with the admission that the company has not been doing enough in its capacity to use environmentally sustainable products.
Other than phasing out non-recyclable plastics, the company also seeks to use 100% renewable energy by 2020 (Kottasová). At the same time, the company also seeks to use only renewable and recycled materials in its products. Moreover, the company also intends to entirely eliminate emissions in its home deliveries by 2025. In order to achieve these objectives, the company has begun by injecting $2 billion into renewable energy projects (Kottasová). In order to power its operations, the company has laid out a plan to build over 400 wind turbines and installing over 750,000 solar panels on its buildings.
What does it All Mean?
The company has been using plastics extensively in the past. This is in line with the statistic that in the past 50 years, the use of plastics has increased 20-fold (Kottasová). Nonetheless, plastics are non-biodegradable and while they are recyclable, they are not extensively recycled compared to materials like steel and paper. Burning plastic waste emits a wide range of emissions including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and VOCs. As such, a large bulk of plastic wastes are dumped to the environment – ending up in oceans, where they pose great danger to the marine ecosystem. If the ongoing trend continues, it is estimated that the mass of plastics will be greater than that of fish by 2050. It is thus upon corporations to set an example by phasing out the use of plastics.
IKEA’s may not singlehandedly stop the situation from escalating to the estimated projections. Nonetheless, by phasing out single-use plastics, relying on recyclable materials, and gearing towards zero-emissions in its home deliveries as well as manufacturing processes, the company will set a standard for the industry in which it operates. Soon, other companies will follow IKEA’s path and this will prove sufficient in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. At the same time, the company will have an opportunity to build the value of its brand. More customers will want to be associated with a brand that cares for the environment. By being recognized as an environmentally sustainable brand, the company will be well placed to win endorsements by environmentally conscious institutions. This will be advantageous to the company in the long-term. There are also unlimited possibilities on the influence that IKEA’s move will have on other global brands. It is possible that the projected plastic-driven environmental deterioration will be avoided altogether.
Why do I care?
I care about this information because the future of the environment depends on our actions today. While it is important for corporations to pursue financial breakthroughs, it is more important that they evaluate the impact that their actions have on the welfare of the communities and environments in which they operate. This is because the future of the human community and that of the natural environment largely depends on the actions taken by individuals and organizations in positions of power. Being a global leader in the market for furniture and home appliances, IKEA is in a position of power and is thus capable of influencing the future of the planet through the actions it commits today.
How to take advantage of this Information
Modern corporations need to take advantage of this information by emulating the example set by IKEA. No modern corporation should continue contributing to the menace created by plastic disposal. Every organization that seeks to remain market-relevant in the next decade should have short-term and long-term plans on phasing out plastic products. This move will not only protect the environment but will also be economically sound. Corporations could even do better than IKEA by setting even more ambitious objectives. For instance, they could set shorter deadlines for phasing out single-use plastics. They could also engage in public awareness programs on the importance of proper disposal of plastics. They should also work together in seeking alternatives to plastics. At the same time, it is important for the general public to endorse companies that show a commitment to a sustainable future. The public should also boycott those organizations that continue to impact negatively on the environment.
Kottasová, Ivana. IKEA bans all single-use plastic from its stores and restaurants. CNN Money. (June, 2018). Available at: https://money.cnn.com/2018/06/07/news/ikea-bans-single- use-plastic/?iid=EL