IKEA to Invest $77 Million in Clean Tech, Could Result in Solar Sales in Stores

IKEA to Invest $77 Million in Clean Tech, Could Result in Solar Sales in Stores

IKEA plans to invest in $77 million in clean tech startups in the next five years with an eye to selling solar panels and other green tech products in stores or having suppliers use them, the Cleantech Group reported.

The plans emerged from the four-member IKEA Greentech group, which formed eight months ago, the report said.  

IKEA established Greentech as its corporate venture arm to invest long term in clean tech solutions. Its mission is to identify and invest in marketable solutions that can be sold or used in IKEA stores or used by retailer’s suppliers, according to the Cleantech Scandinavia organization.

Johan Stenebo, managing director for IKEA Greentech, is slated to speak on his firm’s strategy for external clean tech growth and the importance of organizations, such as the one he heads, as tools for green tech development later this year at Cleantech Scandinavia’s annual conference.

The investment plan is the latest example of the IKEA ethos that entwines the company’s mutual drives for environmental responsibility and business success.

In the United States, Swedwood North America — a subsidiary of the Swedwood industrial group within IKEA — is building a manufacturing facility in Danville, Va.

The 810,000-square-foot factory will be the Swedish firm’s first furniture production plant in the U.S. The site was chosen for its proximity to North American IKEA stores and distribution centers, a selection that enables IKEA and Swedwood to reduce transportation costs and environmental impacts. IKEA has 283 stores in 36 countries and territories; 35 are in the U.S. and another 11 are in Canada.

In October, the company will stop offering plastic shopping bags to U.S. customers. IKEA eased into its campaign to phase out the bags last year. It set a goal of halving use from 70 million bags to 35 million in 12 months, and as incentive to reduce consumption charged a nickel for a plastic bag and offered reusable bags for 59 cents apiece. The company donated the more than $300,000 in proceeds from the plastic bag sales to America Forests to plant trees.

The campaign and the donation program mirror IKEA programs in the United Kingdom, where plastic sacks were bagged in June, and in Australia, where the bags became history in December.