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.
Balconies, terraces, decks ... Outdoor spaces can look different, but one thing they have in common: they are becoming more like the inside of the home. Today, we also want such spaces to have a personalized look, while also being comfortable and flexible. A little like a living room under the open skies. Damon Hird, who works with product development for outdoor spaces, tells us more. "Outdoor furniture has always been quite conventional, but now more and more people want more function and aesthetics. After all, the outdoor space reflects the home’s character, and when you spend more time there it’s natural to want to make it more personal."
Designer Andreas Fredriksson had an idea that suited this new need. A modular sofa that can be added to, from an armchair to a loveseat to a sofa ‒ or as long as you like. "I wanted to make a truly flexible sofa", explains Andreas. "Easy to move around and use to furnish in different ways." The sofa differed a lot from other comfortable outdoor sofas that are often big and heavy. Andrea's design idea was to use light steel tubes to build an airy metal skeleton covered with mesh in order to form the frame of the sofa. Thick pads and cushions are then placed over the mesh to provide comfort. "I wanted to achieve an overall ease with this open design while ensuring that all parts fit in a flat package that you easily take home from the store." The fact that Andreas had an exciting solution was confirmed when HAVSTEN, the name given to the finished sofa, was awarded the design award called the Red Dot Award.
Both Andreas and Damon think that HAVSTEN is just as easily suited for indoors, but the materials are adapted to resist sunlight and the outdoor elements. The frame is made of powder coated steel and the fabrics of the pads are dyed with a technique where the pigment is added directly into the fibers to prevent them from easily fading in the sun's UV rays. And if it starts to rain lightly, the rain drops form fine beads on the water-repellent surface that you easily shake off. Damon describes HAVSTEN as the outdoor space’s durable anchor point, a neutral base that you can style and adapt as you like. "You can easily change the expression by adding a rug, cool lighting and a table, just as you do around the sofa in the living room."
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 organizations such as Textile Exchange to further improve standards on recycled materials, including traceability of material beyond the recycling units.