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Taking steps to create a circular IKEA

Step one: Making the most of waste

BY THERESE ÅKESSON

 

Lots of empty PET bottles laying on top of a series of IKEA KUNGSBACKA kitchen cabinets. KUNGBACKA is made using recycled PET bottles and recycled wood.

Imagine a zero-waste world. A world where say, discarded plastic drink bottles could be turned into new kitchens. Impossible? Not at all. It’s actually happening.

Add a personal touch to your kitchen by choosing from the wide range of IKEA knobs and handles. ÖSTERNÄS leather handles work well on black KUNGSBACKA fronts.

A new mind-set

“We need to find alternatives for a circular system” says Anna Granath, Product Developer at IKEA of Sweden, referring to the concept where waste is given new life. Not only is it a model for a greener and healthier planet, it’s also a mind-set. And IKEA is embracing it. By incorporating it every step of the way in the design and production process, IKEA aims to close the loop between harvesting materials, producing products and lab testing.  

Roughly 25 half-litre plastic bottles are needed to create the matte black finish on each KUNGSBACKA front.

Several empty old PET bottles beside two glass jars; one containing recycled wood chips and one contain recycled plastic pellets.

Living in a material world

It is not difficult to find a material that can be both renewable and recyclable. The difficulty arises when assuring a material is good quality - and safe. It also has to be a material that lends itself to manufacturing, and fall within the IKEA price range. KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts satisfied all these criteria. Together with the supplier in Italy, the team at IKEA developed materials made entirely out of recycled wood and recycled PET-bottles.

“Rather than thinking cradle to grave, we need to think cradle to cradle.”

– ANNA GRANATH, PRODUCT DEVELOPER,
IKEA OF SWEDEN

Three empty PET bottles on a worktop fitted on IKEA KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts.

KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts launched in February 2017.

Making a difference

“What we do has a big impact on the environment because IKEA works with large quantities. With the new material, we can avoid using an oil-based plastic and produce more sustainably, without having to compromise quality, form or price” expresses Anna.

Just the beginning

IKEA is pulling out all stops to become a fully circular business. And sourcing more recycled products is a good starting point. But that’s just one of the things that is taking place. They are also developing a circular supply chain and exploring innovative production techniques. Another key goal is to prolong the life of products and materials. Take the new sofa VIMLE for example. It’s built on a standard sofa platform where parts can be exchanged over time.

The IKEA TOMAT spray bottle, shown here on a kitchen bench top, is made from the leftover plastic film that is used to protect some IKEA products.

 

“I’m made from the leftover protective film that covers some IKEA products.”

IKEA TÅNUM rugs, shown here folded in a pile, are made from leftover materials form IKEA bed linen production.

 

“We’re made entirely from leftover materials from IKEA bed linen production.”

Learn more about the TÅNUM rug

PET bottles become plastic pellets that then become IKEA KUGGIS storage boxes.

 

“I’m a storage box made from PET bottles that have been transformed into plastic pellets.”

Learn more about the KUGGIS storage box

IKEA ODGER chair is made of wood plastic composite, where 30% of the material is wood, and at least 55% of the remaining material is recycled plastic.

 

“We’re made of wood plastic composite, where 30% of the material is wood, a renewable source, and at least 55% of its remaining materials is recycled plastic. This means it has less impact on the environment than virgin oil-based plastics.”

IKEA PS vases, shown here on a window sill in the sunlight, are made from re-melted recycled glass rejected due to defects or bubbles.

 

“We’re made from re-melted recycled glass rejected due to defects or bubbles.”


More highlights

What makes a home?

For the past five years IKEA has published the Life at Home Report. This year they sought out people from around the world who are challenging ideas about the home. They call them “Home Pioneers”.

It’s not about the names. It’s about learning.

IKEA of Sweden is collaborating with a long list of exciting designers, both up-and-comers and established names. Find out why here.

IKEA Highlights 2017

Discover all IKEA Highlights in one place.