Ikea, the huge Swedish furniture business that popularised the flat-pack model, has a reputation around the world as a family orientated company that cares about people and the environment. There’s only one problem. All those Billy book cases and Hemnes beds are made using wood. Lots, and lots of wood. In fact, according to an article in the Daily Mail, Ikea use 1% of all the wood produced in the entire world each and every year.
Think about that for a minute. Ikea is a privately held business. They sell occasional furniture – hallway tables, sideboards, beds, book cases and the like. And they sell so many of them that they alone account for a small percentage of the world’s wood use, which includes wood used to make paper-based products.
There is a problem though and that is where it all comes from. In the past they have been criticised for using wood derived from trees felled in ancient woodlands. Once that hit the news, they put in place a series of measures to prevent it happening again. But that doesn’t mean they are all-of-a-sudden green. 25% of the wood they use comes from sustainable forests. The rest of it – well, they say that it isn’t from illegal logging anyway and that there is a roadmap in place to increase the use of wood from sustainable sources to 50% by 2017.
Ikea’s seemingly insatiable desire for wood has spawned a wholly owned subsidiary company called Swedwood that, you guessed it, processes trees into furniture. They’re growing fast too. Swedwood has been posting 20-25% year-on-year growth since it was founded more than 20 years ago in 1991. They employ more than 16,000 people at 50 sites in 10 countries around the world.
One thing is for sure. With Ikea posting consistently high sales, anybody that sells chainsaws will probably be in high demand for quite some time. As would anybody selling meatballs. Or lingonberries for that matter!