Flat packs

grey backgroundAn open flat-pack with a dining table.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
WRITER: DANIEL DASEY
IKEA HIGHLIGHTS 2016
Mushroom foam, honeycomb inserts, and sugar-cane-based film. They sound like dishes on a dessert menu, but these materials could revolutionize the way that IKEA products are packaged.
A FEW YEARS BACK a problem with the famous IKEA flat-packs was noted. While the polystyrene foam used inside the packaging was great at absorbing shocks, it wasn’t so great for the environment. Made from fossil fuels, it was difficult to recycle and didn’t fit with the IKEA vision of using materials from sustainable sources
“We were using enough expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) to fill the Empire State Building every two years, and in the best cases it went for incineration afterwards,” says IKEA Sustainability Leader for Packaging Development, Peter S Larsson. “EPS also often ended up in dumps and in nature, where it takes thousands of years to break down.”
Peter says while the material was used by companies worldwide, the Packaging Development team made the decision to no longer fill the air spaces in its flat-packs with a material far more harmful than air. “We decided to develop recyclable alternatives that were as good as or better than polystyrene, as well as being as simple to use, and as cheap or cheaper.”
Initially, the decision met big resistance, both internally and with suppliers. Many wondered why something that worked, was affordable and had been used for ages needed to be changed.
“But being big also comes with a big responsibility to take a clear people-and-planet positive approach to the way we do business,” says Peter. “We have an IKEA saying: ‘We don’t just make things, we make things better’. And this was one of these moments.”
The result, after years of intensive work, was a range of plant-fiber and paper-based packaging materials, which are fully recyclable and offer protection equal to polystyrene foam. Following a four-year roll-out, they have replaced EPS in almost all IKEA flat packs globally, except those for appliances.
“We have been able to get good protective qualities by folding paper to get a shock-absorbing zone,” says Peter. “We have use molded paper that you can put into different shapes and structures to provide the protection we need. We collect and recycle the material that ends up in our warehouses and stores, and we produce new packaging materials and new articles from it.”
A photo of Peter S Larsson, sustainability leader for packaging development, with different packaging solutions in front of him.
But being big also comes with a big responsibility to take a clear people-and-planet positive approach to the way we do business.
Most customers haven’t noticed the change, but other manufacturers certainly have. “Toy manufacturers have started to use molded paper solutions and it’s happening now in electronics as well, so I think it’s coming along.”
Changing to fiber-based materials is just one of the ways IKEA is working towards packaging that takes better care of the environment and preserves natural resources. Another important breakthrough has been the development of a new type of plastic film used for packaging products. Other savings have been made by continually striving to improve packaging and looking for smarter ways of doing things.
Tealights in a tight plastic packaging.ikeaShelves with different cardboard packages.
TAKE GLIMMA TEA CANDLES as an example. A decade ago they were sold in loose bags of 100. The team realized that stacking and closely packing the candles could help save space on its pallets, improving sustainability and providing better protection to the candles themselves. This new and improved approach has helped reduce handling time and means 108 more packages can fit on each pallet. This means about 400 fewer trucks will hit the roads with GLIMMA. Sometimes IKEA products are packaged so efficiently it can create moments of confusion. Customers wanting to buy a table and four chairs in the JOKKMOKK range were confused that all the items could fit in the one flat pack, creating a communication problem in the stores.
Sometimes IKEA products are packaged so efficiently it can create moments of confusion. Customers wanting to buy a table and four chairs in the JOKKMOKK range were confused that all the items could fit in the one flat pack, creating a communication problem in stores.
But with EKTORP, IKEA got it just right. It was the first sofa that came knocked-down and flat-packed, providing big advantages to customers who now could bring it home by themselves. Today, the majority of sofas and armchairs are flat packaged. And, the trend is set to continue as the flat pack wins new generations of fans who are prepared to think outside the box!
linequote
Say hello to the new top chef: Your kidtextbox
SAY HELLO TO THE NEW
TOP CHEF: YOUR KID
Say hello to the new top chef: Your kid
IKEA® 2016 by numberstextbox
IKEA® 2016 BY NUMBERS
IKEA® stores worldwide
389
IKEA® store visits in millions
915
IKEA® 2016 by numbers
The nerdy (but oh so passionate) truthtextbox
THE NERDY (BUT OH SO
PASSIONATE) TRUTH
The nerdy (but oh so passionate) truth
MEET BILLY AT HIS
COUNTRYSIDE BIRTHPLACE
He has been around for nearly four decades. Most of us have either lived with him or gotten to know him at a friend’s place. Come along and meet BILLY at his countryside birthplace where about 4.5 million BILLY bookcases see daylight each year.
Get the full story about the BILLY production
SECRET INNOVATION LAB REVEALED textbox
SECRET INNOVATION
LAB REVEALED
Secret innovation lab revealed
PROTECTING DESKS
… AND THE PLANET
Why not take recycling one step further and actually make new products out of waste? A few years back, someone at IKEA had this ‘crazy idea’… But now, this is turning into reality, saving money for the customers and finite resources for Mother Earth.
Learn more about the crazy idea
Local storytextbox
LOCAL STORY
What makes a home a home?textbox
WHAT MAKES A HOME A HOME?
What makes a home a home?
And the winner is…textbox
AND THE WINNER IS…
And the winner is…
Stepping into the world of 3D printingtextbox
STEPPING INTO THE
WORLD OF 3D PRINTING
Stepping into the  world of 3D printing
Meatballs and KLIPPANtextbox
MEATBALLS & KLIPPAN
WHY A FURNITURE DEALER DECIDED TO SELL FOOD
Meatballs and KLIPPAN
PEEKING INTO THE WORLD’S
LARGEST PRINT PRODUCTION
Translated into 33 languages, in 48 different markets, reaching about 255 million people, this year’s IKEA Catalogue welcomed everyone to be themselves. The statement was clear: IKEA doesn’t design furniture for consumers - they design for people. And the reality? People are human, and humans are not perfect.
Get a peek behind the scenes
Weaving a brighter future for women textbox
WEAVING A BRIGHTER
FUTURE FOR WOMEN
Weaving a brighter future for women
Thinking outside the boxtextbox
THINKING OUTSIDE
THE BOX
Thinking outside the box
FURNITURE MADE OUT OF PAPER. NO, SERIOUSLY!
Sofas and chairs made from the same stuff as egg cartons? And bench tops and table legs made from bamboo? Anything is possible as IKEA design-teams explore a world of materials.
Learn more about new materials
2
IKEA HIGHLIGHTS
Many companies, organizations and people, together, shape IKEA. Each and every person, idea and solution contribute to the big picture. IKEA Highlights collects stories from different parts of the IKEA world to describe this year’s accomplishments, quirks and maybe even a few slips. Good thing we’re all human.
016
IKEA hits the runwaytextbox
IKEA HITS THE RUNWAY
 IKEA hits the runway
A FORCE FOR GOOD DESIGN
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, David Wahl was given a mission. A young IKEA designer, David was asked to produce a unique object that could defeat the darkness in homes across the planet, bringing light and hope to the many. The result was the IKEA PS Pendant lamp: a planet-like lighting fixture that ‘explodes’ at the pull of a string, spilling warm, glorious light across surrounding spaces.
Read the full story about the IKEA PS Pendant lamp
Welcome home, to IKEAtextbox
WELCOME HOME, TO IKEA
Welcome home, to IKEA
Welcome to another IndiaWelcome to another India
WELCOME TO
ANOTHER INDIA
Welcome to another India
Virtual reality - into the magictextbox
VIRTUAL REALITY
- INTO THE MAGIC
Virtual reality - into the magic
Fantastic films & awesome adstextbox
FANTASTIC FILMS &
AWESOME ADS
Fantastic films & awesome ads
What home is for a refugee without onetextbox
WHAT HOME IS FOR A
REFUGEE WITHOUT ONE
What home is for a refugee without one
MOST THINGS STILL
REMAIN TO BE DONE
Have you ever wondered where IKEA came from? Or how a simple country boy from Småland was inspired to create one of the world’s leading brands and help create a better everyday life for millions of people?
Find the answers in the full story
Playing for a better lifetextbox
PLAYING FOR A
BETTER LIFE
 Playing for a better life
A world of creative collaborationstextbox
A WORLD OF CREATIVE
COLLABORATIONS
A world of creative collaborations
Sunshine & monsters: get ready to play!textbox
SUNSHINE & MONSTERS:
GET READY TO PLAY!
 Sunshine & monsters: get ready to play!
Swedishness has no borderstextbox
SWEDISHNESS HAS
NO BORDERS
Swedishness has no borders
Powered by Peopletextbox
POWERED BY
PEOPLE
Powered by people