IKEA

The world’s largest furniture retailer is shifting to renewable energy by 2020 and will grow more trees than it uses under a plan to safeguard nature.

Environmentalists are applauding the latest announcement from IKEA.

The Swedish-based group says it wants to build on its customers’ desires for a greener lifestyle. IKEA says it would limit sales by 2016 to energy-efficient products including induction cookers and LED light bulbs.

Mikael Ohlsson, chief executive of the firm, spoke to Reuters. He told the news agency he has no doubt the “People & Planet Positive” strategy would save money both for IKEA and its clients, although he declined to estimate total savings.

Under the plan, IKEA will reportedly invest 1.5 billion euros ($1.95 billion) from 2009-15 in solar and wind power to produce at least 70 percent of the group’s energy. By 2020, it would produce as much renewable energy as it consumes.

IKEA is no stranger to sustainability. The company already owns wind farms in six European nations and has 342,000 solar panels on its stores, warehouses and factories. These solar panels generate 27 percent of the group’s electricity.

By 2020, IKEA will grow at least as many trees as it uses to make products such as beds or cupboards if its environmental plan is successful. According to Reuters, IKEA already says it does not take wood from natural tropical forests, such as in the Amazon or the Congo basins.

In a press release distributed by IKEA, environmentalists appear to be in support of the company’s strategy. Reuters reports that John Sauven, head of Greenpeace UK, said it “puts IKEA at the forefront of leading companies” trying to transform their businesses in the face of environmental threats.

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Greenpeace UK reportedly confirmed Sauven’s comments, and IKEA said other environmental experts had praised the strategy. These supporters include the WWF conservation organization and the UK-based Climate Group think-tank.

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