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.
Create the best workspace for you
It’s important to create the most comfortable working environment to suit you. Working for longer periods of time while sitting or standing in a bad or uncomfortable position can cause neck and back injuries as well as other serious health problems. Find out what you can do to create an ergonomic workspace, and learn about the different quality tests we carry out and the materials we use.
What’s an ergonomic workspace?
Ergonomics is about designing products or environments to make them safe and comfortable for people to use. An ergonomic workspace is one that is customised to your personal needs, allowing you to work in a comfortable and safe way.
Feel good and work better
We want to help you achieve an ergonomic working environment that suits you and promotes good health. This means adjusting the workspace to your needs, adopting an ergonomic position and keeping as mobile as possible. The human body is made to move, so ideally, your workspace should give you the choice of sitting, standing and leaning, allowing you to change positions often. And if you feel good at work, you will work better.
Choosing the right chair, desk, monitor or lamp can help create a comfortable working environment, but it cannot correct a bad posture. Make sure you adopt a good posture when sitting or standing for longer periods to avoid injury. Here are some tips on how to create a comfortable workspace.
You should be able to stretch your legs under the table and turn 90° to the left and right for freedom of flexibility. The hips and knees should be at an angle of approx 95-100° with your feet flat on the floor.
Choose a height-adjustable chair. When standing, the highest point of the seat should be just below your knee cap. You should aim for an even distribution of weight. Raise your chair if you feel pressure near the back of your seat, but if you feel pressure near the front of your seat, you should lower your chair. This will improve the circulation of blood and reduce the risk of swelling.
Use the seat tilt to lock a position and to improve your comfort. It will affect the distribution of weight and can provide better stability and support when you need it. A tilt of 5° is recommended.
A chair with lumbar support will relieve the small of your back from tension caused by tiredness. The tilt of the back support should allow you to sit with your upper body slightly reclined (recommended 110°).
Armrests can provide support for the upper part of your forearms, and reduce the stress on your shoulders and back. Make sure that the armrests do not prevent the chair from being drawn close to the desk, nor restrict natural movements. Also keep in mind that soft armrests will be more comfortable for your elbows.
A height-adjustable desk is ideal as it will allow you to change position often.
Alternating between sitting and standing will reduce the risk of injury and increase circulation, as well as productivity. The top of your work surface should be elbow height and your elbows should be at a 90° angle when sitting or standing at your desk.
A standing support enables a position between sitting and standing, and is ideal when you have a height adjustable desk. It has the following advantages:
Provides freedom of movement for your upper and lower body. Activates and strengthens the core muscles of your body. Gives you an open posture which improves your circulation and metabolic rate.
Make sure your monitor is not placed too close to you. With your chair pulled in and arms stretched in front of you, you should not be able to touch the screen. The monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top just below eye level. Placing the monitor too high can cause neck problems. For longer periods at your monitor, make sure your arms and wrists are supported. The keyboard and mouse should be placed around 10-15 cm from the edge of the desk, so that the wrists are supported, but not too far that your neck and shoulders lean forwards. The monitor should be tilted at 20°-30°, which is an optimal angle for the eyes as well as the neck and shoulders.
To provide ideal lighting you should consider a combination of general lighting, mood lighting and task lighting. A desk lamp is a type of task light that provides a concentrated beam of light over a limited area. This is useful when for example focusing on paperwork. General lighting provides a uniform light through the whole room. Mood lighting provides a cosy feeling and softens the contrasts between general and task lighting. Place the lamp on your left side if you are right handed to reduce shadows. Computers near a window should be roughly placed at a 90° angle to the window in order to avoid glare
We test our products for quality, safety and durability to meet international testing standards. We have very tight restrictions on chemicals, and even though certain products meet international standards they might not meet our own higher standards. In that case we will not manufacture those products. Your safety is always our top priority.
We test that our products are in line with international standards according to or set by EN and ANSI/BIFMA. In addition, IKEA has its own chemical and quality testing.
EN stands for European Norm. These standards are recognised throughout Europe and they assure strength, durability and stability.
ANSI is the American National Standards Institute, which creates and oversees norms and standards, and accredits organisations like BIFMA to formulate tests for different sectors. BIFMA, the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, creates standards for business furniture with the highest safety standards. The professional office furniture from IKEA is tested according to BIFMA’s safety and resistance requirements.
Tests are carried out in our test labs in Sweden and China in the product development phase. The test methods are the same for home and professional use, but for professional use the products are tested with heavier loads and more cycles.
How we test our office furniture
Desk and office chairs
Desk chairs that are intended for home use are tested to assure they are comfortable, stable, safe and durable. The series of tests we put our office chairs through are more rigorous to meet the strict requirements on stability, strength and durability. For instance, the chairs are subjected to heavy loads up to about 300 000 times.
Desks for home use are subjected to various tests including stability, strength and durability tests. The kinds of tests that are carried out depend upon the design of the desk, and which areas of the desk that are expected to be most exposed to wear and tear. Tests carried out on desks for professional use are stricter than those for home use. Desks that meet those standards will adhere to the following standards: EN 527, ANSI/BIFMA X5, which means we test their stability, durability and safety. For example, we might test the strength of a product by subjecting it to a vertical force of 100 kg for 10 seconds × 10 times.
Quality tests are carried out on storage furniture for safety and durability. Different parts including doors, drawers, surfaces and wheels are subjected to different tests. Storage furniture that has been tested for office use meets the following standards: EN 14073 and ANSI/BIFMA × 5.9
We care about what goes into our products and always aim to use resources in the most efficient way possible. We choose our materials carefully while keeping prices low. Some materials work better for certain furniture depending on its use and design. For example Melamine is often used in table tops because it has high surface resistance against scratches and marks.
Melamine – a paper film with an impregnated print or pattern, which is applied under pressure to a board. The result is a hardwearing, heat-resistant and water-repellent surface which is easy to keep clean.
Veneer – thin layers of wood glued on to a board. All IKEA veneer is lacquered which makes it easy to clean, hard wearing and protects it from moisture and scratches.
Board on frame – A wooden board or fibre board with a honeycomb filling structure made of recycled paper. It is lightweight yet sturdy, and uses significantly less raw material.
Bamboo – stronger and more flexible than most wood. Sustainable fast growing grass that produces twice as much oxygen than tree species.
Solid wood – a renewable, natural material that is hardwearing and every piece is unique with its varying grain. IKEA sources all wood from closely inspected logging and carefully chosen forests.
GLOSE leather – a soft yet durable dyed-through grain leather, treated with a protective coating. Easy to look after. Treat with ABSORB leather care set.
Plastics - A synthetic or semi-synthetic material that can be moulded and is made from oil or natural gas but also from plants. There are two categories of plastics: thermosplastics that can be heated, moulded and melted, and thermoset plastics that cannot be remelted. The most commonly used in IKEA are thermoplastis such as polycarbonate and polypropylene.
Wood plastic composite WPC – A mixture of wood and fibre that is moulded into a form, combining the advantages of the two materials. It is strong and lighter than other plastics, making transportation costs lower and reducing environmental impact.
Paint & lacquer
Powder coating is a process where dry powder paint is applied to a surface, often metal. It is an efficient and environmentally sustainable technique, since there’s little waste of powder and no solvents are used.
Virgin vs recycled polyester
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.
Some challenges with recycled polyester
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.
Only recycled polyester
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.
What is polyester?
Polyester is a durable, quick-drying and insulating material that is optimal to use for textiles and as filling in pillows, quilts and furniture. The material is made from crude oil – a limited resource. Since IKEA doesn’t want to contribute to more virgin oil being used, we are now gradually switching to recycled and traceable polyester from sources like PET bottles. What’s nice is that polyester can be recycled over and over, without changing or losing its great qualities.
A good day at the office
You both work and feel better when you sit comfortably. MARKUS swivel chair is tested for professional office use and therefore meets your requirements for safety, durability and stability. You can easily adjust the chair to suit your body and the built-in lumbar support relieves your back. The airy mesh fabric in the backrest gives the chair a neater form – and reduces the environmental impact of transport, as it makes the chair both flatter and lighter.