With looks and durability that stand up to quartz engineered stone – IKEA’s newly-launched worktops, made with recycled glass, are pushing the possibilities of recycled materials within our range.
A new frontier for IKEA worktops
LOCKEBO is IKEA’s first ever worktop in recycled glass – and marks an important step on our journey towards using only renewable or recycled materials. Previously, stone-like worktops could only be made using virgin materials.
With LOCKEBO, not only can more virgin resources remain in the ground, but the energy required to produce the worktops is also reduced. And, best of all, the price of LOCKEBO is in line with our quartz worktops.
So it looks great, performs great, and is a great choice for wallets? Yes, yes and yes… but the road here hasn’t been all straightforward. As the Engineering & Quality Leader responsible for custom-made worktops including LOCKEBO, Giedrius Varnas has followed along for all the twists and turns in bringing LOCKEBO to life.
LOCKEBO worktops come in an assortment of neutral colours.
Test, improve, repeat
“The supplier in Spain first came to us with this material in September 2020, so you can really say that LOCKEBO was a pandemic product!” Giedrius explains. “It’s a little bit special, you know, to have this worktop that was developed from our home offices!”
Product development at IKEA typically takes up to two years, but with travel restrictions and other pandemic-related delays the final timeline for LOCKEBO came in closer to three, with IKEA’s quality requirements another factor.
“Whenever we bring something to the surface as a potential product, we need to put it through all possible testing – not just for international standards, but also for our own requirements at IKEA.” One of the toughest of these to pass, as Giedrius explains, is IKEA’s edge impact test. “A cylinder is placed at a 45 degree angle to the edge of the worktop, which is the weakest point. Then a metal ball is dropped into the cylinder, reaching a high speed before it makes contact with the edge.” If there are any scratches or chips to the surface upon impact, it's not good enough for IKEA.
And while the recycled-glass composite ticked all other requirements without a sweat, it unfortunately didn’t pass the edge impact test the first time round. Nor the second, nor third, nor fourth. In the end, it took five rounds of testing and four reformulations before it finally measured up to IKEA’s engineered stone quartz worktops.
A LOCKEBO worktop passes the challenging IKEA edge impact test.
A different road to the same results
Interestingly, achieving LOCKEBO's strength and other mechanical properties meant producing it in a completely different way to engineered stone quartz. “With engineered stone composite, you have all the materials sprayed onto a conveyor belt before it goes into a press, piece by piece,” Giedrius continues. “A bit like making pizza!” he laughs.
To secure the same required strength within the recycled-glass composite, however, meant starting instead with massive 6m2 blocks of the material, which are then pressurized from all sides. Once they have fully cured, the blocks are then cut slowly and carefully with a saw into the individual worktop slabs.
“In a way, it mimics the process of marble or natural stone,” Giedrius adds, “where you also start with a single block that is cut into slabs.” This similarity is also what gives LOCKEBO a varied organic expression – since each of the slabs come from different parts of the original cube. This is unlike the process for engineered stone quartz, where uniform colours and veining are, Giedrius explains, “copied and pasted” onto each slab as it is pressed.
As for the "past lives" of all the glass that eventually becomes LOCKEBO, sources include post-consumer packaging like wine bottles and glass jars, post-industrial glass waste and even broken car windows and windscreens collected from service shops! The final worktop comprises a minimum of 80% recycled glass, with the remainder made up of resins, pigments and other materials.
The IKEA Test Lab in Älmhult, Sweden, is one of the labs where products like LOCKEBO worktops undergo rigorous testing for durability and quality.
The fact that a glass composite, where all the glass is recycled, could ultimately pass the same mechanical tests as virgin materials was surprising, even to Giedrius. “For regular glass, so far you can only add about 50% recycled material without really affecting its mechanical properties,” he says. “Now, here you have glass that has lived a life and served a purpose, before being crushed back down to a fine fibre and made into a new product without losing its previous strength. It’s amazing.”
Towards a more circular future, one worktop at a time
The LOCKEBO range of custom-made worktops launched in selected countries in October 2023, with plans to launch in more IKEA markets over time. Visit your local IKEA website for a complete overview of the available range of worktops in your country.