Polyester is a durable, wrinkle-resistant and easy-care material that is ideal for many home furnishing products like rugs, pillows, quilts and cushions.
The downside to virgin polyester is that it is made from oil, coal or natural gas. This means that when we use virgin polyester, we are exhausting the planet’s natural resources. Our response to this, is to replace all virgin polyester with recycled in our products.
In 2020, we achieved the milestone of replacing 79% of the virgin polyester used in IKEA textile products and will accelerate the transformation towards the aim of only using recycled polyester throughout the product range where polyester is used.
"The tiger is a symbol of a healthy ecosystems", says product developer Anna Edlundh. Before work started on the URSKOG/DJUNGELSKOG textile collections, Anna participated in a workshop where the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) organisation shared their expert knowledge regarding endangered species. It inspired Anna and her colleagues to have a print of the magnificent tiger on a duvet cover in comfortable lyocell and cotton.
"As a predator at the top of the food chain, the tiger has an important role in maintaining a balance in nature."
Through their encounter with WWF, Anna and her team also came up with ideas for other wild animals that should have more light shed on them, and which can fascinate children of all ages. The panda, the zebra and the gorilla were some of the animals chosen.
URSKOG/DJUNGELSKOG are our tribute to nature and its diversity. Everything from duvet covers and pillows to towels and rugs are colourful and have a multitude of impressions – just as nature itself.
Anna and her colleagues at Children's IKEA always focus on the environment. For them, it's a given to choose materials and production methods that are neither harmful to children or our environment.
"With these collections which focus on nature, it felt particularly good that we use materials such as the cellulose fibre called lyocell, cotton from more sustainable sources and polyester made from recycled plastic", says Anna.
Today, all cotton products which IKEA sells have a marking so that the cotton can be traced back all the way to the farmers. It's a guarantee that the cotton actually comes from sustainable production.
In Pakistan, a country with an extensive textile tradition, there is a great deal of expertise when it comes to different printing techniques. Abdul Majid Khan, who works at our office in the provincial capital Karachi, says that many of the patterns in the collections are printed with a pigment print. It's a technique that we are choosing more and more due to its environmental benefits.
"The advantage with it is that we can skip a large washing step during production", says Abdul Majid. "And in this reduces water consumption by 30-40% compared with the reactive printing technique. For a single duvet cover with a pillow case, it means that we save at least 30 litres of water."
From the experts at WWF, Anna learned that the colours of the wild animals which inspired our textile collections are completely unique.
"Did you know that every tiger has its own pattern? Personal stripes that it keeps its whole life."
Originally, all polyester was made from oil-based raw materials which are not renewable but we are switching to only using recycled polyester. The good thing is that polyester can be recycled over and over, without negatively affecting the quality of our products.
When we make products from recycled polyester, we give a second life to material that is not biodegradable and reduce the amount that may otherwise end up in landfill or the ocean. Instead, PET and other sources of polyester are used to make textiles, storage boxes, kitchen fronts and even lamps.
Recycled polyester is just as good as virgin polyester in terms of looks, quality and function, and produces about 50% less in CO2 emissions. And the material is just as clean and safe in every way.
Recycled polyester makes us less dependent on oil. The amount we convert, is equal to the amount of virgin fossil fuel we eliminate from our polyester raw material (this excludes potential dyeing and other post recycled polyester production treatments).
With some exceptions, the challenge is not the conversion of polyester into recycled itself, but to make it available to everyone by keeping it affordable. Buying low environmental impact products often comes with a higher price tag. We want to change that by working to make recycled polyester products more affordable and accessible to the many people.
IKEA is committed to end the dependency on virgin fossil materials and only use renewable or recycled materials by 2030.
We are accelerating this movement for polyester in our range and aim to replace all virgin polyester in our textile products with recycled. In 2020, IKEA replaced 79% of the virgin polyester used in IKEA textile products with recycled polyester. In volume, this means we converted 130,000 metric tonnes of recycled polyester, and saved 200,000 tonnes of virign polyester.
We haven’t reached our 100% goal yet, but we have come far and overcome many obstacles on the way. These volumes make us a leader in converting to recycled polyester and we hope that our decisions can inspire and motivate whole industries to change.
At IKEA, we demand that all recycled polyester used in IKEA products shall come from recyclers that are compliant with the Global Recycled Standard and traceability is secured to the IKEA product through requirements toward the IKEA Suppliers.
By only using recycled polyester that meets the Global Recycled Standards we manage to secure social, environmental and chemical practices at the recycler’s production. We believe that the GRS standard is the best standard on the market today. We work with our partners and textile organisations such as Textile Exchange to further improve standards on recycled materials, including traceability of material beyond the recycling units.