Steve Howard, IKEA’s head of sustainability, made a comment at a Guardian Sustainable Business debate recently that many found surprising, by implying that his own company’s business model is becoming increasingly outdated: “If we look on a global basis, in the west we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings.” But the news isn’t bad, Howard believes that this presents an opportunity for us to shift from consumption to recycling and re-using.
While on the surface such an admission might seem strange coming from a company that makes it profits selling affordable furniture to the masses, Howard was quick to explain that he doesn’t expect the business to stop growing any time soon. In fact, he believes that changes in consumption could be an opportunity to rethink what it means to be a business in the modern era.
Related: Inhabitat Talks to IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard
ForIKEA, that means not just selling furniture — but also providing services to repair and recycle products. Instead of the company focusing on furniture sales as its only goal, instead, Howard says IKEA sees its goal as trying to help customers live more eco-friendly lives. This isn’t the first time the furniture giant has made a shift in response to environmental concerns — IKEA has already phased out non-LED light bulbs in its stores, pledged to transition all stores and factories to 100% clean energy by 2020, and even invested 1 billion Euros in programs to help poor communities deal with the impact of climate change.
Via The Guardian
Images via Shutterstock (1, 2)
It will be interesting to see how this will affect their use of materials. At the moment most of their furnitures are made with hard to recycle and not-worthwhile-to-repair materials like mdf, particle boards, plastic etc -- which made them more affordable, but also disposable instead of reusable. I do start to see more wood furnitures in the store. But they are usually the premium products.