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 polyester, we exhaust 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 90% 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.
We ordered a study that focused on children aged 8-12 from all around the world. From that we tried to make something that fitted in both with what kids want, and what the parents think the kids need as well.
Child and adolescent psychotherapist Dr Barbie Clarke and her research agency Family Kids & Youth carried out the global study. "Early adolescence is an important phase because it's a slow move towards autonomy and independence,” says Barbie. “There's this huge growth happening that requires a lot of energy. It's not a joke that they really can't wake up in the morning!" One of the big findings was that kids wanted a place to relax and retreat, while still being close to their parents (who still are their biggest influence), even if hanging out with friends is a growing focus. "The bedroom also becomes a place for entertaining with friends. The phrase 'chilling out' was something that we heard around the world. 'Oh, I just want to chill out' is a key desire".
Building on the research, the work began. We designed SLÄKT to be super modular and adaptable, as well as easy to move around if say a bunch of friends come over. After we tested everything for safety we asked children for their feedback. Then we changed certain designs to be even easier to use and relax with. The kids favorite: a fold out mattress that can be stored under the bed and brought out whenever it’s chill out time. Kids seem to just sort of fall on it. No communication, just 'aaah!'.
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 changing or losing its great qualities. When we make products from recycled polyester, we give a second life to material that is not biodegradable and would otherwise end up in landfill or the ocean. Instead, PET bottles 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 but requires less than half the energy to produce and lowers CO2 emissions by up to 50%. 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 come with a higher price tag. We want to change that by working to make recycled polyester products more affordable and accessible to 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 90% of the virgin polyester used in IKEA textile products with recycled polyester. We have not reached our 100% goal yet, but we have come far and overcome many obstacles on the way. These volumes make us an industry 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.