Circular IKEA Poland is the first circular economy program in IKEA Retail Poland, the company operating IKEA stores in the country. It was started in 2016 and hopes to close the loop on many crucial materials and encourage circularity in customers through circular products and services. This will be done by re-directing products to any of our stores or partners once they reach their end of life and re-introducing them into the value chain (thanks to adequate work with suppliers). IKEA Retail in Poland has already contributed to the idea of Circular Economy through paper and cardboard recycling for many years (packaging waste from stores goes directly to paper mills to become new products and packaging).
Additionally, having in mind educational and inspirational aspects towards the market, in 2016 we organised workshops on hand-made furniture and upcycling, open for interested customers. At the moment, one of our first priorities is to close the loop on textile waste. Our IKEA Janki store is already upcycling all its textile waste with a social organisation and we are experimenting other upcycling applications too. We collect also post-consumer waste (including textiles) in order to upcycle them. In addition to closing the loop on materials, Circular IKEA Poland tackles the energy consumption of our operations. In Spring 2016, IKEA Group in Poland became energy independent, meaning producing more renewable energy (wind farms) than we consume in all our stores, offices or distribution centers in Poland.
- Proper effective waste management in the stores is critical because stores produce the biggest variety of waste with 40 different identified fractions. For example, thanks to proper sorting at source, we currently recycle 100% of our cardboard and 84.5% of our waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
- Using balers in our stores allows us to generate 7.50% more income from sale of cardboard bales than with the old technology of compactors as well as decreasing transport costs and carbon emissions.
- We have set a goal to decrease our waste production (with focus on municipal waste, food waste and non-recyclable waste) by 3.8% this financial year (2017).
- 100% of our recycled paper & cardboard goes to paper mills of our waste contractors.
- The social initiative conducted in our Janki store allowed to eliminate the textile waste fraction. This is only the start however. As new stores will be opened in Poland, our waste reduction strategy needs to be more aggressive. We are working on opportunities to send fractions such as wood waste and industrial textile waste straight to our factories to use them in our products. This would allow the company to reduce its virgin material consumption and waste production while meeting the resource demand arising from our growth (thus saving money). Furthermore, IKEA Group in Poland already decreased its carbon footprint thanks to its energy independence and will continue to do so by thriving for recycling or upcycling in preference over incineration of waste.
- Circularity will considerably change the way IKEA does business across all departments (including meeting the customer at the end). A first challenge stands in establishing proper communication between all departments and functions.
- Furthermore, re-channelling our resources towards the production units requires changing waste management processes in place. Since IKEA is not a licensed waste management company, our manoeuvrability can be restricted by the law. Consequently, we have to work very closely with the companies handling our waste to create custom solution for each material.
- There is currently no national regulatory framework that is favorable to exploit circular economy to the fullest.
- As Circular Economy is growing on importance in Poland rapidly, we aim at finding practical solutions with different suppliers and partners on mass scale including consumers’ interest but also putting sorted waste from our stores into new products being manufactured in the country.