Dark and dramatic BACKIG tableware has a surprising past – it's 94 percent glass from factory scraps. That means leftovers from glass production are melted down and reused to create BACKIG. "Using materials which have less impact on the environment, like recycled materials, is something that we strive for. It’s in our DNA,” says Silke Millan who works with sustainability at the IKEA headquarters.
In a small French town, less than an hour's drive from the ocean, a large factory is ablaze on the inside. Furnaces fire at volcanic temperatures and conveyor belts whirl with glowing red globs, turning out dozens of different IKEA glass products.
Clear glass can be reused to make clear glass, but the dusky deep purple tint of BACKIG is characteristic of when different coloured glass is melted together and reused to make something new. The result is often called black glass.
"Black glass is less expensive to produce than black stoneware," says Daniel. "So we could offer an alternative to customers and lower the price."
But even more important is securing safety. The glass scraps that make BACKIG never leaves the factory, meaning they come from an environment that we know meets our strict standards and requirements. Since BACKIG comes in contact with food, this is particularly important.
"BACKIG is good thinking," says Daniel. "The material is there and it's safe, so we should do something good with it."
"In glass production, you always get a certain amount of scrap," says Daniel Stjernqvist, an IKEA engineer who's specialised in glass for many years.
"Sometimes, material is cut off to create a finished product, and sometimes it breaks or has something wrong with it – like a bubble or a defect – so it's rejected. This is then crushed and goes back into the furnace again to melt,” explains Daniel.
Clear glass can be reused to make clear glass, but the dusky, deep purple tint of BACKIG is characteristic of when different coloured glass is melted together and reused to make something new. The result is so dark it's nearly black, which is why it's often called "black glass".
"Black glass is an affordable alternative to black stoneware since it's less expensive to produce. For us it makes sense to use a material that already exists – it's safe, saves energy and money – so why not do something good with it," says Daniel.