Posted on 03 October 2014
From the forest to the printer, the entire value chain of the IKEA catalogue is now certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), ensuring that the paper originates from responsibly managed forests.
IKEA’s 2015 catalogue, which reaches over 200 million people worldwide, is the largest print production ever to be fully FSC certified. The process is of impressive dimensions – involving the coordination of printing 67 editions in 32 languages, and the use of more than 100,000 tonnes of FSC Mix Credit certified paper.
From the forest to the printer, the entire value chain of the IKEA
catalogue is now certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), ensuring that the paper originates from responsibly managed forests. “That IKEA has chosen to use FSC-certified paper, and to inform their customers about it, means they value what FSC stands for – responsible wood products from well-managed forests,” says Emmanuelle Neyroumande, WWF’s Pulp and Paper Global Manager.
IKEA and WWF engaged in discussions on refining the environmental requirements of the IKEA catalogue in 2012. In the process, the WWF transparency tool Check Your Paper
was added as a reference.
“Getting the catalogue certified is a way to show our strong support for FSC. It also gives us an opportunity to talk about our ongoing work to continuously increase the sourcing of FSC certified wood for the production of the articles in the stores,” says Matthieu Leroy, Sustainability Specialist, Inter IKEA Systems B.V – the owner of the IKEA Concept and worldwide IKEA franchisor.
“Hundreds of millions of people in the world will now be informed of FSC through the catalogue, enabling them to make informed choices in their everyday life,” says Neyroumande.
Easier than expected
Originally, reaching full FSC certification was planned for 2016.
With a track record of 23 per cent of the catalogue being certified in 2013, advancing to 68 per cent in 2014, the challenge was initially regarded as almost too bold. But concerns of FSC paper scarcity and costly certification processes proved to be overstated and the goal was achieved one year ahead of plan.
“That this has been done in just two years and at an acceptable cost to IKEA shows that there is room to continue increasing FSC-certified forests and products – contradicting the general sense of FSC product scarcity,” Neyroumande says.
Demand driving improved forest management
A high demand for FSC products is instrumental in driving improved forest management on the ground. Today, around 14 per cent of the production forests are FSC certified.
“There is still a lot of potential to grow. As increased FSC certification only takes place after the demand from buyers has reached the field, there is risk for a time lag until the availability of certified products can answer to the demand. But it is exactly this gap, or feeling of scarcity, which drives the increase FSC certification. So companies and consumers looking for more FSC labelled products need to stay persistent in their demand,” Neyromande adds.
IKEA’s ambitions reach far beyond that of certifying the IKEA catalogue. Their sustainability strategy for 2020, People and Planet Positive, sets a target of 50 per cent of wood used in their products and a 100 per cent of wood from priority areas to be obtained from more sustainable sources by 2017. The long-term aim for all wood is to reach 100 per cent in 2020. ‘More sustainable sources’ here implies FSC-certified or recycled wood.
Leroy points out that a sustained demand from IKEA could catalyse spin-off effects. “At this point, the best contribution we can make is increasing the demand and availability of FSC wood globally, beyond our own needs and for all retailers and brands.”
Per Larsson, coordinator of WWF’s Global Forest Trade Network
in Sweden, where IKEA has been a participant since 2002, says, “IKEA has set clear goals to increase the amount of FSC-certified and recycled fibre in its product range. We think that this is an important step in order to drive action throughout the supply chain. But achieving these goals calls for enhanced efforts on IKEA’s part, especially in challenging regions where the responsibility of forest management needs to be further addressed.”
Increasing the availability of FSC globally is also one of the main objectives of the WWF and IKEA partnership. Since 2002, WWF and IKEA have combined their expertise to transform markets. The partnership currently runs projects in 12 countries in shared priority regions.
The full FSC certification of IKEA’s catalogue is an important milestone that paves the way for greater sustainability efforts in the entire supply chain.
“Producers still need to continue reducing their impact on air and water during the manufacturing of pulp and paper. And at the end of the chain, IKEA can increase recovery and recycling of the catalogue, as well as ensure the most efficient use of paper,” Neyroumande says.
In the past, IKEA catalogues have been produced with high recycled fibre content, but it turned out that these versions did not meet the quality demands, Leroy explains. “The IKEA catalogue needs to display products and their colours as realistically as possible, and that was not possible on recycled paper. That is why the current focus is on using 100 per cent FSC-certified paper made with virgin fibres only. The catalogue is also produced in a way that makes it fully recyclable.” Today, around 60 per cent of the IKEA catalogues are recycled each year, as recycling possibilities for paper vary per region.
“Finding new ways to close the sustainability loop is a current focus and something IKEA will work on more in the coming years,” Leroy says.
Now that the world’s largest print run is FSC certified, the discussions will continue for the rest of the IKEA range products, especially in view of the long-term and ongoing partnership between WWF and IKEA. “With IKEA’s ambitious People and Planet Positive Sustainability Strategy for 2020, eventually all the other IKEA paper products will have to go through the same journey. This is just the beginning of a promising future for sustainability in IKEA’s supply chain,” Neyroumande says.