Plastic is a key material for IKEA and remains so going forward. It is strong, durable, lightweight and versatile. It is a main component in a large amount of our products and has a wide variety of applications from surface materials such as paint and foil, to screws and shelf pegs.
There is a lot of valid concern regarding how plastic impacts the environment and at IKEA we take this very seriously. As part of our larger circular journey and transition from virgin fossil based material, we are working hard to change all plastic in our home furnishing products to plastic made from recycled and/or renewable raw materials.
Working with SMÅSTAD, we wanted to understand in depth the needs and challenges that families have when it comes to storage for children. So we visited and interviewed parents and children around the world who told us about their morning routines and showed us their wardrobes.
We also studied children's development research and looked at how storage needs are solved in schools and preschools. Everywhere there was knowledge and experience that helped us in our work.
One of all the insights we gained was that everyday routines and the choice of clothing easily leads to a struggle between adults and children. So how could a storage solution help them to get their routines together at home to flow a little more smoothly? It ended up forming the basis of our work, and when the first prototypes were ready we invited our experts again – to praise or give a thumbs down to all the ideas.
There is a hard nut to crack for most families: the small child who wants to decide for themselves and the adult who thinks they know best. You’ve probably experienced a three-year-old who is quite sure that birthday party clothes are just the right choice for a Monday morning. Being able to choose for themselves and have an overview of their clothes is really important for a child’s development, but it will be simpler for them if the choices are limited (and reasonable). That’s why the storage in SMÅSTAD wardrobe can be divided into different levels – an upper one you have control over, and a lower one where the picky three-year-old reaches a slightly smaller range of choices. It's tricking them a bit, we know, but it’s a good means to an end: the child can see their choices just the right amount in order to make their own decisions.
In anticipation of the new family member arriving, you can prepare a cosy, safe and practical place for changing diapers, clothes and everything else that concerns the baby's care. Then coming home with your newborn baby can be completely wonderful, but also a bit overwhelming. The laundry pile grows and you try to juggle doing everything that needs to be done while holding the baby at the same time. With a combination of SMÅSTAD changing table and storage, you can easily reach everything you need on hooks and in drawers, and can still have a snug hand devoted to your child.
As the baby develops and begins to perceive more of their surroundings, you can put up colourful pictures around the changing table and hang up a mobile that grabs their attention. When the diapers period is over, the changing table can easily be lowered and turn into a reasonably high table for play and drawing.
During this period, children develop at an astounding rate. Play is most important, but taking responsibility for one's things and getting dressed on their own are routines that make the child grow and feel independent. Since it takes time for all motor and sensory skills to develop, it is important that storage is adapted and easily accessible. Many children, for example, find it difficult to hang up and remove clothes from a hanger – even if it’s child-sized. And if the wardrobe is deep, it's hard to see and reach the clothes furthest back. That’s why we made it possible to divide the storage in SMÅSTAD into different levels, so that your child can reach just the right amount of clothes on hooks and in wire trays or drawers. To simplify the morning routines, you can label the storage with pictures in label holders, so both you and the yawning four-year-old know where the socks are.
This is an exciting time. Friends become more important, the child fully explores their identity and is happy to show off their style and interests. At home, favourite toys and posters can change from one day to the next. The variability is part of the development and to stimulate it we’ve developed a cork door for SMÅSTAD. There they can create their world of images and important things – without the wall being riddled with holes. The fact that clothes end up in piles on the floor is not out of the ordinary since they’re focused on everything but complicated hangers. Instead you can place hooks on both the inside and outside of SMÅSTAD so it’s faster to hang clothes, backpacks and other things.
At the bottom of the pull-out wardrobe is a drawer where they can pile in everything that needs tidied away. We think that both children and their parents like simple solutions. Pretty smart, right?
When we visited families around the world, we realised that an ordinary wardrobe with doors is often too deep and too tall from a child's perspective. SMÅSTAD simply needed a new type of storage. Inspired by our kitchen range, we got the idea for the stable pull-out storage. When our small and big experts eventually got to test it and pulled out the wardrobe, pretty much everyone said "Wow!" They really liked getting such a good overview and being able to reach everything from two sides. The high edges of the bottom are used to strengthen the construction, but at the same time they create a storage drawer for everything from the baby's diapers to the child's toys and the teenager's sportswear. Pretty smart, right?
Living with children is like experiencing constantly changing surroundings. Most parents around the world seem to agree. Suddenly a jacket is too small, the soft toy is too childish – or it's time to share the wardrobe with a younger sibling. In order to make SMÅSTAD as flexible as possible, we developed a number of accessories such as hooks and handles, label holders and a mirror – all of which you can easily add or remove as needs change.
Have you thought about what a school corridor looks like? They’re often full of hooks, and that’s no coincidence. Hangers are difficult to handle for children of most ages, and lifting out a garment from a neat pile of folded ones in the wardrobe can be almost impossible (and just as difficult to put back). Both HJÄLPA and LÄTTHET in our hooks range fit SMÅSTAD and have been expanded with two new smart hook models. One that you attach around the clothes rail, and one that fixes in place over a door or a drawer so that the back works like a clamp for the latest drawing or photo.
Besides clothes, the hooks can be used to hang backpacks, necklaces, hats – basically everything that busy children want to be able to reach quickly and easily.
Children learn through repetition and routines, but may sometimes need some help along the way. In preschools, symbols and signs are often used to help with structure and guidance. Even at home, symbols can support daily routines and are a way to communicate without nagging. With HÄNGIG label holder you can label drawers with pictures of socks, underwear and sweaters so it will be easier for a half-awake child to find the right garment. Use the symbols included with HÄNGIG or let your child create their own using some colouring pens.
With the label holder, children can also pimp their wardrobe as much as they like – without you pulling your hair out over old stickers that don't come off.
During their school years, it becomes increasingly important for children to have their own private nook where they can do arts and crafts, play games and read – on their own or with a friend. But it is not always easy to create this privacy if they share a room with a sibling. With SMÅSTAD loft bed, we wanted to create a room within the room and fit in as many features and as much flexibility as possible in a small space. Under the bed there is a desk and a wardrobe that forms a wall towards the rest of the room, and if you add storage drawers there is plenty of room for clothes, toys and school things. Add hooks, cork doors and carefully selected handles for a well-thought-out nook with an ‘own room’ feeling.
How about a rounded wooden knob, or a metal handle in vibrant colours and a graphical style? Handles are a bit like the personality of storage furniture, and by changing them you can easily change the style without it costing much. For SMÅSTAD we’ve developed BEGRIPA, PLOCKAR and LAPPMES – handles and knobs which all have soft shapes and are adapted to allow the small hands of children to easily grip them. For older children there are JÄRNSPARV arrow-shaped handles that can be mounted facing different directions to create a fun and personal expression with a touch of attitude.
It hurts to hit a sharp edge, no matter how old you are. That’s why the corners of all doors and drawers in SMÅSTAD are softly rounded. In order to make the entire storage system as safe and secure as possible, we already had our safety experts involved from the start. They are trained to see possible risks based on different ages.
For example, the hinges have built-in dampers that catch the door so that it closes softly and reduces the risk of pinching small fingers. But you need to ensure the most important safety precaution at home: always anchor your storage furniture to the wall to prevent the risk of it from tipping over.
Plastic is most commonly derived from oil and gas, which are non-renewable fossil sources. These sources do not renew themselves and will eventually be depleted.
Our ambition is that by 2030, all plastic used in our products will be based on renewable or recycled materials. Renewable plastic is made from materials such as vegetable oil, corn, wheat grain and sugar cane. Recycled plastic allows us to give a second life to non-biodegradable products such as PET bottles that would otherwise end up in landfill. Using recyclable sources also lessens our dependency on oil as a raw material.
Currently more than 40% of our plastic products are based on recycled and renewable materials and our aim is to reach 100%. As we add products made from recycled and renewable materials to our offer, we hope to inspire other companies to do the same.
Single-use plastic items pollute ecosystems if not disposed of responsibly. As part of our commitment to people and the planet, all single-use plastic products from the global home furnishing range were phased out in 2020. This includes items such as plates, cups and plastic straws offered in our restaurants, bistros, and cafes. These were replaced by disposables made from 100% renewable sources.
Polythylene terephthalate (PET) and Polypropylene (PP) are durable, hygienic and shatter-resistant plastics. They absorb very little water and have good chemical resistance. Both PET and PP can be reused and recycled, which reduces waste and gives the product several lives through use and reuse.
PET is the most recycled plastic in the world and can be used for many different purposes such as plastic bottles and containers for packaging food and beverages as well as for personal care products, pharmaceuticals and many other consumer products. At IKEA we mainly use recycled PET in boxes, filling material for textiles and kitchen front foil.
PET is approved by health-agencies as safe to use for food and beverage. IKEA uses recycled PET that is post-consumer based, which means it is based on collected and sorted PET bottles.
IKEA takes product safety very seriously and all products are tested and comply with the strictest possible laws and safety standards on all IKEA markets. Customers should always feel confident that products bought at IKEA are safe and healthy to use. IKEA wants to minimize or totally refrain from the use of chemicals and substances that can be harmful to people and the environment.
Our journey towards only using recycled or renewable plastic will take some time and require new ways of doing things, but we are determined to take responsibility and find new solutions. We want to give our customers the possibility to choose products made from more sustainable materials that can be recycled again one day. Together, we can make a big difference!