How Ikea Plunders the Planet

Behind its wholesome and eco-friendly image, the Swedish furniture giant – the world’s biggest consumer of wood – has some highly unscrupulous practices. An investigation into the Scandinavian multinational with an insatiable appetite for raw materials, or how Ikea plunders the planet.

“Since its creation in 1943 by the visionary but controversial Ingvar Kamprad, and over the course of innovations – flat-pack furniture, mail order sales, self-service stores, etc. – the small company has experienced dazzling growth, and has accompanied the entry of Sweden in the era of mass consumption. Today, this commercial flagship, which fully contributes to the country’s international influence, has become a juggernaut in continuous expansion. The figures are dizzying: 422 stores in fifty countries; nearly a billion customers; 2,000 new items in the catalog per year… and a copy of its flagship product, the Billy library, sold every five seconds. But the Ikea model comes at a cost. To continue its exponential development and sell ever more furniture at low prices, the Swedish giant devours 20 million cubic meters of wood each year, or 1% of the world’s reserves of this material… And if the firm praises responsible sourcing and management sustainable forests, the reality behind the speech turns out to be much murkier.
For more than a year, investigative journalists Xavier Deleu (Epidemics, the Footprint of Man) and Marianne Kerfriden traced the Ikea production line to the four corners of the globe. From the last Swedish boreal forests to Brazilian plantations, including the New Zealand countryside and the wide open spaces of Poland and Romania, the documentary reveals the links between the furniture multinational and the intensive and uncontrolled exploitation of wood. It reveals how the brand with the yellow and blue logo, often via unscrupulous suppliers or subcontractors, contributes to the destruction of biodiversity across the planet and fuels timber trafficking. Like in Romania, where Ikea owns 50,000 hectares of forests, and where activists are mobilizing at the risk of their lives against an endemic timber mafia. Behind the success of one of the most popular firms in the world, this unprecedented investigation sheds light on the incredible expansion of a discreet predator who became a champion of greenwashing.” (Translated from French)