An Exploratory Study of Sourcing Options for Alternative Materials to Leather - A Case Study at IKEA of Sweden

University essay from Lunds universitet/Teknisk logistik

Abstract: Abstract Title: An exploratory study of sourcing options for alternative materials to leather. Authors: Akashdeep Maheshwari and David Marriaga Diaz – Master Students in Logistics & Supply Chain Management. Division of Engineering Logistics. Lunds Tekniska Högskola (LTH), Lund University. Thesis supervisors: Caroline McGarvey – Sustainability Manager / Material and Innovation Deployment Leader. Category Area Comfort. IKEA Range & Supply. Leo Chen – Product Engineer. Leather Competence Centre, Inter IKEA. Ebba Ericsson - PhD Candidate. Faculty of Engineering Logistics. LTH, Lund University. Thesis Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to Identify and analyse potential new materials for the inclusion to IKEA’s portfolio in the “leather” catalogue. Method: The thesis began with an investigation of leather and coated fabrics supply chains, to identify the different risks pertaining to both materials. The study then performed an LCA on both materials to establish sustainability benchmarks. Next, a thorough investigation on existing leather alternative materials available in the market was carried out. The materials were subjected to a vendor selection process regarding IKEA’s democratic design for product development. The result of the vendor selection was a short-list of potential suppliers with which IKEA could collaborate in the future. The study then does an analysis comparing two technologies which recycle leather and could potentially be used within IKEA’s value chain. The study has a recommendation of short, medium, and long-term goals that could benefit IKEA concerning the future of alternate materials. Conclusion: The study identifies the cradle to gate carbon emissions for leather and PU coated fabrics as a valuable indicator into the company’s operations. The study also classifies different leather alternative materials currently available in the market and evaluates their performance on attributes based on IKEA’s democratic design, with a special consideration on sustainability and price. The study determines there is no fully comparable material to leather based on IKEA’s leather standards. However, the study concludes that some leather-like attributes of the materials evaluated might be of interest to motivate more circular products in the future. Keywords: Sustainability, Corporate Sustainability, Leather, Coated fabrics, Leather alternatives, Circular supply chain, Sustainable supply chain management, Purchasing strategic management, Supplier selection, LCA.

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