It is perhaps the only furniture company renowned for its meatballs: IKEA. The company is making headlines for their efforts to reduce environmental impacts, such as spending € 1 billion on renewable energy and climate adaptation steps for poor nations.
What’s more, IKEA products save energy and water and reduce waste, and 98 percent is made from renewable, recycled or recyclable materials. Even the meatballs have been transformed: now, customers can buy GRÖNSAKSBULLAR, vegan meatballs with a lower environmental footprint than their meat version. IKEA is transforming its overall business model:
“The circular economy is a big topic and an opportunity from a resource efficiency perspective, closing loops of material in our supply chains, but also to connect with our customers, offering services that can prolong the life of our products and add value to our customers.”
Per Stoltz, Sustainability Developer at IKEA
IKEA aims to have closed material loops where waste is turned into resources again. More and more, they are providing customers with clear and simple means to recycle their furniture. An example in The Netherlands is IKEA’s mattress return and recycling service: customers buying a new IKEA mattress can give the delivery guy their old mattress, which is then recycled into judo mats, cleaning cloths, insulation material and more!
IKEA’s approach can serve as inspiration for the approximately 650 shops in Leiden. Of course, most of them do not produce their own products, making it quite difficult to become more circular by themselves. However, economic incentives can play a huge role in the process. For store customers, a small discount could be given at return of the packaging. For the shopkeepers, the Dutch government already has the Afvalfonds Verpakkingen in place. This entails a compulsory payment for each package the shop brings onto the market and a monetary reward for recycling the packaging again.
Recycling, repairing and reusing products at their end of life should be made easier by shops, too. If the store is too small to do this themselves, perhaps they could form partnerships with specialized companies in Leiden that can do it for them. These companies could give the shops a fee for the advertisement and so both could benefit.
The Dutch government has started the NederlandCirculair! program which could offer inspiration, network expansion and guidance for merchants in Leiden. Better provision of information on this program could fasten the transition to more circular shops. Furthermore, the government is working on measures including: stimulating policy, financing, knowledge and innovation and international cooperation. So not only would it be wise for shops to follow IKEA’s more sustainable business changes, but the changes needed will become more or less compulsory in the future.
Concluding, if shops in Leiden want to stay in line with future trends, they will need to become more circular fast. Hopefully, the next time a shopkeeper in Leiden decides to eat some lovely GRÖNSAKSBULLAR in IKEA, he or she becomes inspired by IKEA’s circular projects.