New age environmentalists are no longer the tree-hugging, hemp-wearing
stereotypes they once were. They are now finance directors, chief executives and
the boardroom as a whole.
Take, for example, British Airways and Ikea – two very different companies
which have managed to not only cut their carbon emissions, but also reduce
costs. Green means big business and big profits.
Ikea saves £100,000 annually at its Wembley branch simply by powering the
store’s energy needs through recycled waste. Charlie Browne, environment manager
at the Swedish retailer, stresses that there is no conflict between doing good
business and being a good company.
Ingvar Kamprad is a die-hard environmentalist who founded the company by
making sales calls on his bike. Since then the company has grown to have an
annual turnover of about euro 13bn and environmental targets are part of its
operational, consumer and staff targets.
Browne is sure that a series of small steps can together make a big difference
and the key to becoming an environmental company is to “enthuse cost-conscious
managers. Find people in the business who know the value of a pound.”
Ikea environmental initiatives include:
• The Wembley store recycles 93% of its waste;
• All its branches receive their renewable energy from Npower;
• Auditing transport suppliers according to type of truck and fuel efficiency;
• Four stores have waste-to-energy technology and geothermal (energy generated
from heat stored beneath the Earth’s surface);
• All its stores are to be supplied with 100% renewable energy for electricity
and heating by 2012;
• Overall energy consumption to be reduced by 25% by 2012;
• Reduced the packaging on most of its products, saving money and waste;
• Achieved a nationwide recycling figure of 73% with a new target of 90% by
• Fleet changed to Honda Hybrids as well as an initiative with employees to
receive discounts on buying their own Hybrids, and interest-free loans to
convert their cars to liquid petroleum gas;
• Formerly used bio-degradable carrier bags, but now only sell re-usable bags,
replacing them free of charge if they wear out;
• Encouraging consumers to order online rather than visit the branch so as to
save on car journey emissions; and
• Gave its entire workforce a folding bicycle and low energy light bulbs,
replacing them free of charge for the lifetime of their employment with the
Meanwhile, British Airways set itself fuel efficiency targets in 1990 before
even the Kyoto Protocol, with a target reduction of 30% between 1990 and 2010.
Lead environmental spokesman at BA Paul Marston believes that investing in a
green drive such as this will pay for itself several times over.
BA, which has just been given the keys to Terminal 5, has a team of in-house
environmental advisers that has reduced the company’s energy requirement by
better utilising its head office. The airline company installed better
insulation and disposed of buildings if they were only half occupied. Marston
says the company is “aware of our environmental responsibility, but we also have
a financial interest too”.
BA environmental initiatives include:
• First airline to set public fuel efficiency targets in the 1990s and to date
have met a reduction target of 28%;
• Has set a further target of 25% fuel efficiency between 2005-2025;
• Implemented an energy efficiency programme and overall has reduced energy
usage by 20% in four years;
• Terminal 5 at Heathrow will provide heat and lighting, centrally powered by
waste. This will satisfy 85% of its heating needs and save something in the
region of 11,000 tons of C02 a year; and
• 70% of water needs will be met by rain and recycling water systems.
a-group.ikea.com/ corporate and click on ‘our responsibility’.
To find out more, go to
click on the information link and then on ‘respecting our world’.
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