Friday, June 01, 2012

IKEA’s Marketing Blunder

IKEA promised way back in 1999 in Brussels that it would not use any wood from primeval forests and has been boasting the slogan 'We Love Wood' on its wooden products ever since.

However, as it turns out, IKEA's wood is not always so ecological, responsible or sustainable. A report published by Swedish and Russian environmental organizations show that IKEA’s wood also comes from harvesting primeval forests in Karelia in North Russia.
Swedish state television also covered IKEA’s walk of shame. According to the conducted research, Swedwood, a subsidiary of IKEA, has been harvesting more than 560 hectares of primeval forest annually. Sadly enough, Swedwood was the first foresting company that received a FSC-certificate (Forest Stewardship Council). The certificate guarantees that the wood originated from forests that are managed in a sustainable and ecological way.

According to Linda Ellegaard of the Swedish environmental organization Protect the Forests, which conducted the research, the FSC-certificate does not really work. "Logging companies can decide themselves who will certify them. The FSC controllers are not reliable, since they do not want to deliver bad news – they want to also have a job in the next year. We have eye-witnessed the devastation of the deforestation in Karelia ourselves. However, the certification agents did not say even one bad word about the cutting down of 600-year old trees"

IKEA stated (of course) that it is not aware of any wrongdoings. "We do not just cut down trees, but pay attention to biodiversity. We are aware of the responsibility to log wood in the forests of Karelia. However, Swedwood has the highest international standard for responsible logging – the FSC certificate. We put our trust in that". 

The FSC claims to have a clear understanding with local Russian environmental groups and logging companies. Arjan Alkema of FSC calls the research of Protect the Forest lacking. "Swedwood makes agreements in accordance with the Russian law and regulations. The value that the Russians attach to the primeval forest is different than that of the Swedes. Furthermore, Swedwood leaves 6,000 hectares in that area alone". 

It is not the first time that IKEA is faced with unsavory practices. The past of the founder of IKEA, Mr. Ingvar Kamprad, is unsavory to say the least......  

Image courtesy of Reuters "shoppers at IKEA"

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