Peter Agnefjäll was appointed to CEO of IKEA in 2013 and did not look back, but rather forward for the path of the company. As an executive of the company, Agnefjäll helped lead IKEA in its endeavor to power, heat, and cool all of its stores using 100% renewable energy (By 2020) through the use of wind. His stores were some of the first to adopt the strategy and paved the way for future additions around the world. IKEA has traditionally been at the forefront of sustainabe business practices and Agnefjällhas no intentions of changing that plan. The company is committed to reducing their carbon footprint in various ways including the renewable energy use in stores, 100% recyclable furniture by 2020, sustainable sourcing through organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). The company has histroically been keen on sustainable business but Agnefjäll is just as invested.
Agnefjäll was responsible for pushing the 2020 sustainability plan through with the former CEO, and advocates on a large scale for similar practices in business around the world.He and his Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard were present at a UN climate summit and march in 2014. Agnefjäll was quoted saying, “We want to grow, but within the limits of the planet… It’s not about doing business in a less harmful way, but actually having IKEA become people and planet positive.” I think this is a great example of someone who is personally invested in the vision of the company. He is also quoted, “We spent about 18 months in a really detailed mapping exercise to look through all different routes for bioplastics and recycled plastics… We came up with six different routes we can look to for our plastics supply chain.” He described how sawdust, landfill methane residue and wood residue can all be good sources for sustainable plastic production. Pushing these ideas of one’s own company is great, but I think pushing for more than just that is even better.
Agnefjäll stated at the end of the event, “…we also need strong leadership in order for us and others to accelerate innovation, and that is one of the reasons we are here in New York: to ask for stronger policy.” He does not want to see a benefit for his own company but everyone else around him trying to make a difference just as IKEA is.
I’ve been a shopper of IKEA for a little while now and was pleasantly surprised to find the CEO rooted in the sustainable movement. I think what he has been pushing IKEA to do to reduce its carbon footprint is a direct relation with his own personal values. He does not have to be at IKEA or do any of the things he does. Agnefjäll was originally a shop floor employee in the 1990’s and managed to work his way all the way up to the CEO position. There could have been a multitude of opportunities to leave, but I think he saw what IKEA was committed to and understood he would be able to make the change he wants to see in the business world and beyond through IKEA. He could have scrapped the entire project when he took over as CEO but he didn’t. Right now IKEA is on course for its pledge to be 1005 energy independent by 2020 and a large part can be due to Peter Agnefjäll.