This case explores the debate over which sustainability philosophy should drive a corporation’s strategy: circular economy, green growth, or degrowth. The case uses IKEA and its enormously successful “fast furniture” business model to illustrate several potential strategies for increasing sustainability. The strategies relate to the concepts of enterprise integration of sustainability—companies “being less bad”—and market transformation—companies “doing more good.”
The case describes IKEA’s sustainability efforts to date and areas for expansion, including its: 1) line of circular products; 2) forest stewardship roles; 3) secondary market program; 4) experiments with a furniture rental model; and 5) product servicing efforts. Also explored is IKEA’s option to discourage consumerism directly and publicly, in line with a degrowth mentality. Students are asked to consider whether IKEA can decouple its resource use from growth, or alternatively, whether IKEA can remain profitable while selling less.