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.
We answer some of these questions in ways everyone can see, like investing in wind turbines and solar panels for IKEA stores, selling only LED and offering lots of products from recycled materials.
Behind the scenes at IKEA stores and companies, we save energy and resources, too. Last year, 78% of IKEA waste was recycled. While we work to increase that number, we launch projects at IKEA stores to help eliminate waste in a cycle of repair, reuse and recycling. Some stores have held mattress take-backs for energy recovery and recycling. Other stores have collected used and unwanted textiles for donation and recycling.
Since 2013, a project team at IKEA has been looking at store-related waste in an entirely different way—as new raw material for IKEA products. The team started by looking at the plastic film that's wrapped around pallets of IKEA products before transport.
What did they find? SKRUTT desk pad!
To make SKRUTT, the plastic film collected from IKEA stores in Italy and France is made into granules through a process of sorting, grinding, washing, drying and filtering. The granules then go to an IKEA supplier where they are blended with a bit of virgin plastic and colouring, extruded, sized, cut and packaged.
Then SKRUTT desk pads go back home! They're sold in the very same stores where they started as plastic film waste—and make their way to lots of IKEA stores across the world, too.
“I’m really proud that my store is participating in this project and especially to say that a bit of simple sorting every day can bring us new products,” says Vincent Locatelli, a co-worker who helps collect waste for SKRUTT from an IKEA store in France.
Producing SKRUTT desk pad from IKEA waste leads to reductions in virgin oil use, carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption. And SKRUTT is recyclable, too.
"SKRUTT desk pad is an example of what we can achieve from using our own IKEA waste from stores," says Annika Persson, communication specialist on the project team. "And this is only the beginning."
While Annika and the IKEA project team pursue more ways to reuse our plastic waste, they're already working on other store-related waste, too.
"We're also collecting cardboard because it can be reused and turned back into packaging material or into new IKEA products," explains Kent Larsson, a business developer on the project team.
So, when you buy products like SKRUTT, you're doing more than protecting your desk. Together, we’re reducing waste, closing the loop and taking responsibility.
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!