Walmart, Target, and Amazon are among the biggest corporate polluters thanks to overseas shipping

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The Exxon Valdez is one of thousands of ships dismantled at the Alang ship-breaking yard in western Indian state of Gujarat, India.

  • A new study measures the climate pollution retailers emit from overseas shipping.
  • Retail giants Walmart, Target, Ikea, and Amazon are among the top 10 maritime polluters.
  • Walmart generates more greenhouse gas than a coal plant would in a year, The Verge first reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new report from Pacific Environment and Stand.earth reveals 15 major corporations that emit as much climate pollution from overseas shipping as 1.5 million American homes.

Retail giants Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Ikea, Amazon, and Nike are among the worst polluters, according to the report. Walmart tops the list, generating more greenhouse gas than a coal plant would in a year, The Verge first reported.

“There really hadn’t been an investigation into this pillar of companies’ emissions portfolio,” Madeline Rose, primary author of the report, told The Verge. “Quite frankly, with the climate emergency on our doorstep, we just feel like there needs to be disruption of the data system and there needs to be greater transparency.”

15 retailers maritime pollution

Right now, Americans are buying so many imported goods that shipping companies are racing to build more boats and brands are paying ten times typical shipping prices, Insider reported in July.

The study measures greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution released by the 15 retailers while importing goods overseas to the US.

To calculate the final rankings, researchers tracked cargo ships used by each company as a way of estimating fuel consumption and emissions. The results do not include the cargo ships’ return, meaning the pollution is probably even more severe than the study found.

In 2019, Ikea announced an ambitious plan for the company to become “climate positive” – meaning it would reduce more pollution than it creates – by 2030. According to the study, shipping from the world’s largest furniture retailer is the seventh-biggest polluter, a ranking worse than Amazon’s.

Last year, Walmart said it will eliminate its carbon footprint by 2040. This goal does not encompass Walmart’s entire supply chain, and therefore does not calculate emissions released by overseas shipping.

Similarly, Amazon has pledged to be net-zero carbon across its business by 2040. An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that the company includes indirect emissions such as cargo shipping into its carbon footprint calculations, which are published online.

Target’s sustainability goals do take its entire supply chain into account – the company also aims to be net-zero by 2040.

“Major retail companies are directly responsible for the dirty air that sickens our youth with asthma, leads to thousands of premature deaths a year in U.S. port communities, and adds to the climate emergency,” Rose said in a statement. “We are demanding that these practices change.”

Walmart, Target, Ikea, and Amazon did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Clever hacks to glow up 7 of Ikea’s most popular furniture pieces

Ikea customers push carts teeming with Ikea products.
Ikea customers push carts teeming with Ikea products.

  • Ikea is the largest furniture retailer in the world with stores in 52 countries and sales of $44 billion.
  • Ikea hacking is the practice of modifying or up-cycling shelves or storage from the flat-pack giant.
  • We rounded up seven ideas for projects that start with some of Ikea’s most popular products.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Odds are you own a piece of Ikea furniture, or have owned some in the past.

The Swedish company is the largest furniture retailer in the world with stores in 52 countries making a combined $44 billion in annual sales.

Its mainstay products like the cubic Kallax bookshelf or minimalist Hemnes dresser can start to look out of place compared with more stylized pieces from higher-end brands.

Ikea hacking is the practice of up-cycling products from the flat-pack giant, and in recent years the idea has gone mainstream. A few businesses are even dedicated to custom accessories and modifications for Ikea furniture, while many hacks can be accomplished with little more than a trip to the hardware or craft store.

A recent survey of readers at The Hustle found that half of respondents had heard of the concept of Ikea hacking, while 43% had tried it for themselves. A similar percentage said they had updated an old piece of furniture during the pandemic and more than 9 in 10 said they could consider doing it.

The community at IkeaHackers.net has been gathering a lot of great ideas over the years, and here are eight ideas for easy to moderately challenging projects that can put a unique spin on some of Ikea’s most common classics.

Simple workspace with Alex drawers and countertop

This one is about as easy as it gets. Take some drawers, add a countertop or tabletop, and you’re done.

Slim entryway storage with Stall shoe bins

The Stall shoe bin is by far one of the most popular items to hack, with most projects replacing the top, refacing the bins, and adding some unique hardware.

 

Glamming up the Scandinavian minimalism of the Hemnes dresser

Adding trim or other facing to flat-fronted drawers can give the simple design a more luxury look.

Platform storage bed from Kallax shelves

Another power tool-free project turns a few Kallax shelves and a piece of plywood into a platform storage bed for a fraction of the cost of a similar item from elsewhere.

 

Entertainment console from Kallax shelf and Frosta stool

The ever versatile Kallax can also be elevated — literally — with a set of legs, which can even be sourced from an Ikea-made stool.

 

Plant station from Hejne shelves

Urban gardeners can use the rugged Hejne shelves to craft a potting and propagation workbench, and a little wood stain helps finish the look.

 

Privacy screen from Ivar shelves

The more we work from home, the more appealing privacy screens are. Ikea does sell one, but custom widths and designs can be made using sections of the Ivar shelf, a few hinges, and your choice of fabric.

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Cheap furniture and toys could soon get much more expensive as retailers are hit by rising shipping costs

Ikea
Cheap furniture makers and sellers such as Wayfair or Ikea could be impacted.

  • Bulky or low-cost items could be hardest hit by price hikes as shipping costs continue to rise.
  • This could include toys and furniture, experts told Bloomberg.
  • Retailers are spending up to ten times more than they would have pre-pandemic to ship items across the ocean.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Toys and cheap furniture are among consumer goods that could get more expensive in the coming months as retailers continue to grapple with surging shipping costs.

According to experts quoted in a Bloomberg report, low-cost and bulky goods are more vulnerable to price hikes: They take up more room on a shipping container and have thinner margins to absorb rising costs.

Gary Grant, founder of UK toy shop The Entertainer, told Bloomberg that in his 40 years in the industry he has “never known such challenging conditions from the point of view of pricing.”

Grant said that The Entertainer has had to stop selling some items, including a giant teddy bear imported from China, because it would have to double the price for shoppers to make up for higher freight costs.

“If they are bulky products it means you can’t get very many in the container and that will have a significant impact on the landed price of the goods,” he told Bloomberg.

Low-cost furniture makers and sellers such as Wayfair or Ikea could also be hit.

Alan Murphy, the CEO of a consultancy company in Copenhagen called Sea-Intelligence, said that the cost of shipping is now making up about 62% of the retail value of some items sold by low-cost furniture makers.

“You simply can’t survive on this,” he told Bloomberg. “Someone is bleeding very hard.”

The shipping crisis is causing some retailers to spend as much as ten times more than they would pre-pandemic to ship items across the ocean.

As reported by Insider’s Rachel Premack, this is because of a breakdown in the freight supply chain. Demand dried up in the first half of 2020 and then came back at the end of the year, leading to port traffic jams and blockages. A lack of containers and dock workers has made it worse.

Many brands are now scrambling to find a space on a ship, and are being forced to pay top dollar for it, Premack reported, using Nike as an example. According to shipping expert Simon Sundboell from eeSea, Nike would have paid $2,000 for a 40-foot container pre-pandemic. Today, it could be paying as much as $20,000 for that same-sized vessel, Sundboell said.

If you have a story to share please contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4716 using a non-work phone, by email to mhanbury@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @MarySHanbury.

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Ikea says it could have supply chain issues because of the Suez Canal blockage

IKEA
IKEA sign seen outside its showroom in Vitrolles, France.

  • Ikea has over 100 containers on the cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal, a Swedish newspaper reported.
  • A spokesperson told CNN that if the ship isn’t floated soon, the company could have supply chain “constraints.”
  • The Suez blockage costs approximately $400 million per hour in delayed goods, according Lloyd’s List.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After a dust storm beached the Ever Given container ship and blocked the Suez Canal on Tuesday, international companies are speaking out about how they may be affected.

Ikea, a Swedish furniture company operating in at least 41 countries, currently has over 100 containers with products atop the beached ship, according to Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. If the blockage continues, the company said it could “create constraints on our supply chain,” according to a spokesperson on CNN.

Ikea is not the only international company facing headaches from the canal crisis: Caterpillar, a construction machinery company, is considering airlifting products if necessary to circumvent the ongoing blockage, according to Bloomberg.

Coffee, toilet paper, seafood and a host of other goods and supplies could also fall into short supply if the blockage drags on. The Suez Canal authority said Saturday it hopes to float the ship soon.

The Suez blockage costs approximately $400 million per hour in delayed goods, according to an estimate from Lloyd’s List. As of Saturday, the canal has been blocked for over 72 hours, costing companies approximately $29 billion.

With about 12% of global trade passing through it every year, the Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important and most-traveled shipping routes. The existence of the man-made canal allows for a much shorter passageway between the Mediterranean and Red seas: before the creation of the Suez Canal, ships were forced to travel 15,000 miles around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to reach Europe and its surrounding waters.

On Thursday, commodity experts said that the prospect of ships being forced to return to traveling around the tip of Africa is “unlikely” due to the shipping delays it would lead to, but that may change if the blockage lasts for weeks.

Evergreen, the company that leases the Ever Given ship, appears to have already diverted course on several of its ships in the previous days to take the long Africa-based route, despite the extra costs. The Wall Street Journal reported that the journey may add $450,000 in costs to the journey by adding weeks to the estimated travel time.

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