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Choosing materials - being a large business comes with large responsibilities

Choosing materials for us is about making responsible decisions. When we’re not able to use renewable resources, we aim for recycled or recyclable ones. In all that we create, we strive to keep prices low and quality high. But it’s not just about the materials. It’s about the people, production, and transportation too. And, there’s always room for improvement. By working with others and challenging ourselves, our goal is to secure long-term access to sustainable raw materials and change the way the industry works.

White, black, and light wooden tables and chairs scattered throughout a forest, one source of our renewable materials.
White, black, and light wooden tables and chairs scattered throughout a forest, one source of our renewable materials.
A split image with a VEDBO armchair with a base in wood on one side, and a close-up of birch wood on the other.

Wood

Wood is fundamental to IKEA – it’s a renewable, natural material durable enough to last for generations. But forests are fragile and sensitive to how we treat them. Today, all our wood is sourced in compliance with the IWAY Forestry Standard, which bans wood from sources involved in forest-related conflicts or illegal harvests.

The size of our operation means we have great ability and responsibility to protect the world’s forests. By 2020, 100% of our wood will be FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified or from recycled sources.

A split photo showing natural cotton balls and IKEA pillow cases and cushion covers made from sustainable cotton material.

Cotton

We love working with cotton. It’s a natural and renewable material that breathes well. And because it absorbs moisture, our cotton textiles are suitable even in the warmest of climates.

Since 2015, all cotton in our products comes from more sustainable sources. “More sustainable” means improved cotton production for people and the environment by minimising the use of pesticides and fertilisers. It’s about securing better water management and developing cultivation practices.

Moving forward, we’ll continue to focus on water efficiency and biodiversity. As part of reaching our goal, we want sustainable cotton to be the norm for the entire industry, not just IKEA.

A herringboned patterned wool throw on a wicker chair, beside a close-up of raw wool.

Wool

Wool is a durable, natural, strong material, perfect for blankets, carpets and other products for the home. What’s more, this sustainable material grows naturally on sheep, making it renewable as well as being biodegradable and recyclable.

IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people, animals and the planet. That’s why we’re on a journey to transform all the wool we use in our products to 100% Responsibly Sourced Wool.

To reach this goal by 2025, IKEA has begun securing parts of the wool value chain to comply with the ‘Responsible Wool Standard’ (RWS) guideline. It ensures that the sheep are treated with respect, and the land on which they are handled is managed responsibly.

A split photo showing a collection of natural rattan fibres and a finished IKEA STOCKHOLM 2017 rattan cabinet door.

Natural fibres

From water hyacinth to cork, banana fibres, and rattan, the use of natural fibre materials is increasing at IKEA. Not only are they natural and renewable, they also have great character, making each final product quite unique.

A majority of this production is non-industrial. We work closely with weavers and craftsmen and women in Vietnam, Indonesia, and China amongst other countries. Working with skilled artisans from around the world opens up doors for co-creation, inspiration and new production knowledge as well.

A split photo showing KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts and a closeup of recycled scraps of wood, paper and plastic in a jar.

Scrap/recycled

We use recycled materials whenever possible. Wood, plastic, paper, and metal are just a few that we love to work with. We differentiate between scrap and recycled materials - scrap refers to the leftover material from another production, while recycled is when we’re able to reuse material from old products.

But, it’s more - it’s a way of thinking and developing products too. We aim to design in ways that allow you to recycle products at the end of their lifetime, thus minimising waste. That’s why we’re constantly looking for new ways to use scrap materials and recyclables and turn them into something useful and stylish for your home, like with KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts.

A split photo showing a finished scooped ODGER dining chair and a closeup of natural composite material.

Composite

A composite material consists of two or more materials - each with different characteristics. At IKEA, we use composite material because it’s strong, low maintenance, low price, and light. An example is wood-plastic composite. Using wood fibre waste makes plastic products stronger and less expensive - and it helps put waste to good use.

That’s the beauty of composite: there’s less material usage and a great potential to utilise lower quality materials (otherwise classified as waste) and turn them into something new that is strong, compact, and light with a long life span. Find composites in everything from BILLY bookcases, ODGER chairs to RÖDTOPPA covers.

A split photo showing PET plastics and a finished plastic white watering can, which was constructed using these materials.

Plastic

We’re on a journey towards only using recycled and/or renewable plastics. Most plastics are oil-based, which means that they come from a non-renewable resource. So, whenever possible, we use as much recycled or renewable plastic in our products as we can. Today, about one third of our plastic items come from renewable and/or recycled sources.

PET, PE and PP are three of the most commonly used plastics in IKEA products, and all comply with the strictest law and safety standards. We have detailed requirements on the use of chemicals and other substances in the manufacturing process, taking into account your health and the environmental impact.

A split image with a table made from bamboo on one side, and bamboo in different green colour variations on the other.

Bamboo

Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world - one of many reasons why we like working with it. It’s durable, hard, and moisture tolerant. We divide bamboo into three categories depending on the process and product that it’s used for:
Natural fibres - the fibre is weaved, rolled or pressed. Industrialised Bamboo - split into thin layers and glued together to form different boards. Layer glued - form-pressed bamboo veneer.

More than 90% of the bamboo we use is grown in China, and in 2016, nearly all of it was FSC certified. Certification has been a long journey and we look forward to rolling out our bamboo standards to develop the industry in India and Vietnam too.