For Inter-IKEA we boosted the sustainability of the world's entire paper supply chain, using IKEA's catalogue and one smart big data tool. The tool includes data dashboards for purchasers, suppliers and retailers, affecting the entire life cycle of the catalogue, all of its suppliers, and subsequently a large part of the world's paper and pulp 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 catalogue print volume, this project positively affects the world's entire print industry. Its yearly improvements now ripple out beyond to adjacent industries.

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

To improve the green procurement of paper and print for its 217-million-copy catalogue, 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 catalogue’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.

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. The energy savings are expected to increase for each next year to come and all this for a cost less than US$500,000.  

This 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, which makes thousands of data points instantly visible and comprehensible in intuitive overview graphics. This allows purchasers and suppliers to instantly see performance opportunities and make critical decisions faster, better, and with lasting positive results.

Because of these requirements, standards, processes and tools, the IKEA catalogue is now the largest print production ever to be printed on 100% Forest Stewardship Council™ certified paper (FSC™ Mix Credit) and to carry the FSC™ logo. This means the entire IKEA catalogue production chain, from forest to printer, is FSC certified to ensure more sustainable origins of the wood.

The original goal was to reach 100% with catalogue 2016 but, by building a thorough supplier selection process and working with the most responsible paper and print suppliers, this 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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