by Tom Bosschaert

Aug. 18, 2017

Tom Bosschaert

For Inter-IKEA, we boosted the sustainability of the world's entire paper supply chain, using IKEA's catalog and one innovative big data tool. The tool includes data dashboards for purchasers, suppliers, and retailers, affecting the entire life cycle of the catalog, all of its suppliers, and subsequently, a large part of the world's paper and pulp production.

The IKEA catalogue story: taking responsibility for the world's largest print production

The big-data supply chain tools resulted in massive sustainability gains in energy, waste, water, and more, right from the first year and increasing each year after. Because of the catalog print volume, this project positively affects the world's entire print industry. Its yearly improvements now ripple out beyond to adjacent sectors.

To improve the green procurement of paper and print for its 217-million-copy catalog, the furniture giant from Sweden teamed up with us in 2014, and we've been working diligently with them to create some remarkably effective big-data tools.

  • In the first year, the catalog's energy consumption dropped 8%, while CO2 emission went down 2%. That may sound modest, but with a print run that has an energy footprint the size of the entire South Carolina economy, this adds up to 285,000 barrels of oil left in the ground each year from now on, and the CO2 emissions of 155,000 car kilometers compensated for by IKEA's CO2 savings. Plus, these reductions have only just started to kick in and are accelerating.

    Matthew Leroy

    Sustainability Specialist at IKEA Media Production

Listen to this Magic Brain Podcast to hear Tom Bosschaert with more details about this IKEA project.

Together, IKEA and Except are creating the world's largest sustainability-driven Self-Learning Supply Chain. This translates to a cost of less than US$500,000 and considerable annual energy savings into the future.  

This approach results in a cost/benefit ratio of over 200 for the energy savings alone, but it's not just about the energy and CO2 aspects of the solution. The online magazine 2Degrees writes this about this process:

  • Before being allowed to enter discussions with purchasers, suppliers also must report on many environmental KPI's (energy, water, waste, emissions) from the pulp, paper, and print productions, as well as all transportation involved.

    These data create a sustainability performance profile for each supplier. IKEA purchasers then use this profile to inform their purchasing decisions and select suppliers whose sustainability performance will contribute to IKEA's own sustainability goals.

    Online Magazine 2Degrees


The Results

The data is processed in our online big-data dashboard, making thousands of data points instantly visible and understandable in intuitive overview graphics. This allows purchasers and suppliers to immediately see performance opportunities and make critical decisions faster, better, and lasting positive results.

Because of these requirements, standards, processes, and tools, the IKEA catalog is now the most significant print production ever on 100% Forest Stewardship Council™ certified paper (FSC™ Mix Credit) and carries the FSC™ logo. This results in the entire IKEA catalog production chain, from forest to printer, being FSC certified to ensure more sustainable origins of the wood.

The original goal was to reach 100% with catalog 2016. However, by ensuring IKEA only works with the most responsible paper and print suppliers, the goal has already been met – one year ahead of schedule.

  • I never fully realized IKEA’s true power until we did this project. The results have been beyond our expectations.

    Matthieu Leroy

    Sustainability Specialist at IKEA Media Production

Aug. 18, 2017

Client & Partners

Project team

  • Tom Bosschaert


  • Alexandre Fradet

    IT & Business Specialist

  • Tim Horsten

    CSR Consultant / Engineer

  • Brian Baldassarre

    Designer & Researcher
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Carmen Vercauteren

    Industrial Ecologist
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Merel Segers

    Industrial Ecologist & sustainable Storyteller
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Tijn Schmits

    Software architect & Developer
    Except Integrated Sustainability

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