Wednesday, January 4th 2012
Bloomberg Businessweek online have released a story about the Swedish retailer Ikea and their boundary pushing solutions throughout their company
The plan it seems is to replace the humble wooden pallet (a staple of the bunk retailer supply chain) with a specially designed Cardboard pallet. Ikea uses 10 million pallets to ship goods from suppliers to its 287 stores in 26 countries. They plan to ditch wood worldwide by January, cutting transport costs by 10 percent. The new corrugated cardboard design can support loads of 750 kilograms (1,650 pounds), the same as timber.
The new cardboard pallets are not designed to have the same lifespan as its wooden counterpart, instead they will be recycled along with the rest of the already minimized cardboard packaging and packing that Ikea utilize when transporting and displaying their products. The company expects to cut its transport bills by €140 million ($193 million) a year, although it will likely spend €90 million annually on paper and new forklifts to handle the slimmer pallets.
“We hope this will be a start in making transportation systems smarter and freight as compact as possible,” says Jeanette Skjelmose, sustainability chief at Ikea’s supply-chain unit.
These moves by one of the largest retailers in the world will be watched by others, in the hope that they too can make savings in materials and costs – although the unique style, ethos and systems that Ikea employ may be difficulty to translate into another company, I am sure that simple curiosity will be enough for some to keep a long-term eye on the project.