IKEA earned a letter grade of A-, the same letter grade that it achieved in 2018. The company scored 89 out of 146.5 possible points, ranking 4th out of the 43 retailers evaluated this year.
IKEA has an impressive and consistent track record of identifying and phasing out chemicals of high concern (CHCs) from its products. The retailer eliminated per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from all of its textiles in 2016 and has aggressively reduced or eliminated chemical flame retardants and phthalates from its products. IKEA has a sophisticated chemical policy and appears to devote substantial resources to successfully working with its suppliers on the chemical safety of its products.
Opportunities for improvement: IKEA should do more to be transparent in its approach. IKEA’s explicitly stated preference to avoid third-party certifications and public standards and instead rely on its own policies lacks the rigor of an openly debated and public standard. Ultimately, consumers have a hard time actually knowing if there are unaddressed hazards while making industry-wide cooperation and shared learning more difficult. IKEA should also be a public leader in addressing chemicals of concern that may be present in food contact materials in its restaurants and cafes. We also encourage IKEA to expand its ingredient disclosure and become a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project.
Summary of IKEA’s Grade
15 out of 17.5 points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
While IKEA has made numerous pledges to have fully eliminated a number of CHCs, little information quantifying these commitments is publicly available. As a result of not having publicly quantified goals, we have awarded credit for 5 of the 6 policy elements.
2.5 out of 5 points
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
10 out of 12.5 points
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
6 out of 13 points
Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
15 out of 16 points
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern (CHCs) within the last three years
11.5 out of 13.5 points
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
Additionally, IKEA is a supporter of the ChemSec safer alternatives marketplace, earning an extra point for this action.
6.5 out of 18 points
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
IKEA does not fully disclose the ingredients for its products. The detailed “Product Information” for some products featured online includes material ingredient content and statements that they do not contain harmful chemicals, and for selected categories, the retailer has noted that specific CHCs have been eliminated. In its most recent Sustainability Report, the retailer stated: “In FY18, we increased our transparency on chemical safety. Information about chemicals can now be found on specific products – such as chrome-free leather sofas in IKEA US – and some IKEA country websites.” We have awarded 1.5 points for identifying some products in which CHCs have been removed in response to the retailer’s policy.
0 out of 7.5 points
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
0 out of 8.5 points
Third-party Standards: Promotes credible third party standards for safer products
0 out of 5 points
Joint Announcement: Public commitment demonstrated through joint announcement
15 out of 15 points
Continuous Improvement: Shows continuous improvement by steadily expanding safer chemicals policy
0 out of 5 points
Safer Products: Program to promote safer products in stores and/or on website
5 out of 5 points
Collaboration: Actively participates in collaborative process to promote safer chemicals
2.5 out of 5 points
Impact Investment: Investing financial resources into independent research into safer alternatives and/or green chemistry solutions
For example, IKEA GreenTech has invested in DyeCoo Textile Systems, a Dutch company that has developed the first commercially available dyeing technology that uses much less water and lower amounts of chemicals.