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6 Months In, IKEA's 'Food Is Precious' Initiative Has Prevented Over $980K Worth of Food Waste

Image Credit: IKEA

IKEA has been making considerable progress towards its sustainability goals by embracing disruptive design and investing in sustainable materials. While the Swedish retailer has largely focused its environmental efforts on its home goods portfolio, the brand is now turning its attentions to tackling food waste. IKEA recently announced its Food Is Precious initiative, which aims to cut food waste in its operations in half by 2020.

Through a smart scale solution — which consists of a touch screen connected to a floor scale holding a waste bin — food waste is measured and reported in the IKEA restaurants, bistros and Swedish Food Markets. The data collected helps identify ways to prevent food being thrown away.

IKEA began implementing its Food Is Precious program in stores at the end of last year and 84 stores, representing 20 percent of all IKEA stores, were participating in the initiative by the end of May 2017. According to a company statement, the program has already resulted in a reduction of 79.2 kg of food waste and 341 kg of CO2. IKEA Food Services spokesperson Ylva Magnusson told the New York Post this week that the initiative, which will now be rolled out across all markets, has already helped IKEA avoid "throwing 880,000 euros ($981,508) in the bin.”

The program has thus far been well-received by employees. In a recent survey conducted in participating stores, 70 percent of food workers said they were proud of the initiative and 50 percent are now taking measures at home to reduce food waste.

“It is very encouraging to see the initial results of the Food Is Precious initiative. Thanks to engaged co-workers and the measuring solution, we see up to 30 percent food waste reduction already after a few months. I am following the development closely and hope it can encourage others to start thinking about food as a precious resource,” said Michael La Cour, Managing Director for IKEA Food Services AB.

La Cour has been appointed a member of the Champions 12.3 Coalition — a partnership of leaders from governments, businesses, international organizations, research institutions and civil society dedicated to accelerating progress toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals Target 12.3 for food waste.

“Members of Champions 12.3 are leading the world in addressing food loss and waste. The power of this unique coalition is that it brings together high-profile leaders from a range of sectors impacting the global food supply to motivate and demonstrate that reducing food loss and waste is possible and necessary,” said Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow and Director of Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute and Co-Secretariat of Champions 12.3. “As a champion myself, I’m thrilled to have Michael and IKEA join our ranks.”

“We all need to unite in the food waste fight. I am delighted that Michael La Cour is joining the Champions 12.3 Coalition and look forward to working with IKEA on reducing food waste. Only by businesses, governments and citizens coming together and taking action can we tackle what is a key issue of our generation,” said Marcus Gover, Chief Executive of WRAP.

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