Polyester is a durable, wrinkle-resistant and easy-care material that is ideal for many home furnishing products like rugs, pillows, quilts and cushions.
The downside to virgin polyester is that it is made from oil, coal or natural gas. This means that when we use virgin polyester, we are exhausting the planet’s natural resources. Our response to this, is to replace all virgin polyester with recycled in our products.
In 2020, we achieved the milestone of replacing 79% of the virgin polyester used in IKEA textile products and will accelerate the transformation towards the aim of only using recycled polyester throughout the product range where polyester is used.
'Show me your chest drawer and I can tell you who you are'. Well, maybe a drawer with just socks and underwear doesn’t tell you a lot about someone. But the fact that there are great differences in how people structure drawer contents is something Karolina Ringefelt can easily acknowledge. She's seen a lot of chest drawers when visiting the homes of customers all over the world. Both in her previous job as an interior designer and in her current role where she develops new products for IKEA.
"It's exciting, regardless of where or how people live, as most have exactly the same things in their drawers,” says Karolina. "It’s underwear, socks, t-shirts, and shirts. But how people fold – or don't fold – their clothes varies and often depends on tradition and their surroundings".
Karolina has seen many smart solutions and systems for keeping things in order in chest drawers. In some homes, people sort based on colour, in other homes based on material or style.
In the American city Philadelphia she visited a college guy who just bought white sport socks."By doing this, he could always fish up a pair of matching socks even though they were all jumbled up in the chest drawer".
But Karolina also understood how frustrating it is for many people when they don't manage to keep things in order – when the drawer's inside just feels chaotic since everything is just lying untidy in a mess. And morning routines take too long when people need to look for matching socks (unless they've gone with the 'only white sports socks' strategy).
These insights triggered the product developer in her: how could IKEA help people to organise their drawers in a better way?
Almost immediately Karolina and her colleagues knew that they wanted to develop something that divides and separates the space in the drawer so that each item can have its dedicated place.
"In Asia I've seen many examples of how people divide a chest drawer into smaller sections using boxes and compartments. But they're often made of hard plastic and are not very flexible, which means they can't make use of the entire space".
The work culminated in RAGGISAR – soft boxes, adjustable dividers, and various compartments that can be stacked on top of each other. All in the same pressed felt material that gives a nice textile feel which is also ideal for storing clothes.
"The flexibility is important so that people can combine them how they like and create their own optimised drawers", explains Karolina.
The result was just what Karolina and her team had hoped for. So does this mean that she will stop peeking into people's drawers and wardrobes? "No, no, that project is something I’ll never finish. People's lifestyles and storage needs change all the time. We want to keep up and always be able to contribute to making everyday life a little easier and more organised".
Originally, all polyester was made from oil-based raw materials which are not renewable but we are switching to only using recycled polyester. The good thing is that polyester can be recycled over and over, without negatively affecting the quality of our products.
When we make products from recycled polyester, we give a second life to material that is not biodegradable and reduce the amount that may otherwise end up in landfill or the ocean. Instead, PET and other sources of polyester are used to make textiles, storage boxes, kitchen fronts and even lamps.
Recycled polyester is just as good as virgin polyester in terms of looks, quality and function, and produces about 50% less in CO2 emissions. And the material is just as clean and safe in every way.
Recycled polyester makes us less dependent on oil. The amount we convert, is equal to the amount of virgin fossil fuel we eliminate from our polyester raw material (this excludes potential dyeing and other post recycled polyester production treatments).
With some exceptions, the challenge is not the conversion of polyester into recycled itself, but to make it available to everyone by keeping it affordable. Buying low environmental impact products often comes with a higher price tag. We want to change that by working to make recycled polyester products more affordable and accessible to the many people.
IKEA is committed to end the dependency on virgin fossil materials and only use renewable or recycled materials by 2030.
We are accelerating this movement for polyester in our range and aim to replace all virgin polyester in our textile products with recycled. In 2020, IKEA replaced 79% of the virgin polyester used in IKEA textile products with recycled polyester. In volume, this means we converted 130,000 metric tonnes of recycled polyester, and saved 200,000 tonnes of virign polyester.
We haven’t reached our 100% goal yet, but we have come far and overcome many obstacles on the way. These volumes make us a leader in converting to recycled polyester and we hope that our decisions can inspire and motivate whole industries to change.
At IKEA, we demand that all recycled polyester used in IKEA products shall come from recyclers that are compliant with the Global Recycled Standard and traceability is secured to the IKEA product through requirements toward the IKEA Suppliers.
By only using recycled polyester that meets the Global Recycled Standards we manage to secure social, environmental and chemical practices at the recycler’s production. We believe that the GRS standard is the best standard on the market today. We work with our partners and textile organisations such as Textile Exchange to further improve standards on recycled materials, including traceability of material beyond the recycling units.