Smart technique for cushions in the sun
With FRÖSÖN cushion covers, you make a sustainable choice for your outdoor space ‒ in several ways. The polyester fabric is made from recycled PET bottles, and has been dyed with a technique that is both resource efficient and durable, so that your cushions stay fresh for longer in the sun. After having tested the fabric in the burning Australian sun and in Saudi Arabian sand storms, we know that the cover keeps its great, fresh look, even in the harshest conditions.
When springtime comes and it’s time to put the cushions out for the outdoor furniture, they don’t always look like you remember them. The color may have faded and the fabric might look a little worn after having withstood the sun’s strong UV rays, rain, wind, dust, and dirt. It’s a completely natural process, but that doesn’t mean that we have to accept it. At IKEA, we embrace such everyday challenges and look for new materials, alternative manufacturing methods and more efficient tests. When we set out to make FRÖSÖN cushion covers, we chose to use polyester made from recycled PET bottles and to use a relatively new dyeing technique, which turned out to have more reliable quality and better environmental durability than conventional dyeing.
The color becomes part of the fabric
Anton Löfstedt, who works with textiles at IKEA, explains that the technique is used to dye synthetic fibers such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon. "With this technique, we add the color pigment in the material before the fiber is manufactured. In this way, the pigment becomes part of the fiber and it becomes more colorfast compared with traditional dyeing where the pigment just ends up on the surface of the finished fiber." By dyeing and manufacturing the fiber at the same time, and skipping a step in the production, it’s also more environmentally friendly. The water consumption is about 80% lower compared to traditional dyeing, while the amount of color pigment can be reduced by 20%. These are important figures which show how a new technique can make a big difference. "Today, a growing proportion of all polyester in our range is dyed in this way," says Anton.
Harsh weather tests
To test the durability of the dyed polyester, we put it out in the sun. Over seven months, some cushions were placed on the terrace of our office in Sydney where the sun is strong and the humidity is high. At the same time, we sent a number of cushions to a family in Saudi Arabia where they withstood both sun and sand storms. Catarina Vannfält is a chemical engineer and has studied the results. "Understandably, they were slightly spotted when we got them back, but after one washing, the covers were fresh again and their color looked really good", says Catarina. So with recycled materials and a dyeing technique that consumes less water and color, FRÖSÖN is one step further towards reducing our environmental impact ‒ and the positive effect continues in your own home. "With a better dyeing technique, that slows down the sun’s bleaching effect on the fabric, and a removable cover that you can wash, the cushions keep looking great for a long time.", summarizes Catarina.