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.
When a new born baby’s eyes open for the first time, the central nervous system is still not yet fully developed. The eyes cannot see a distance of more than 20-40 cm, about as far away as the nursing mother's face. But by interacting with a variety of impressions, like colours, shapes, touches and sounds, the development of the small child's brain is stimulated. This is explained by researcher Krister Svensson, who has studied children's development, play and learning for many years.
"But resting is just as important as the stimulation. The brain occasionally needs rest from the impressions in order to sort it all and relate everything to what it previously registered."
Toys adapted to the small baby can contribute to these important impressions which stimulate the brain's development. But what is it that really makes a certain toy enticing to the child?
"Often it's something that stands out in their surroundings and draws attention to itself", says Krister. "Maybe black dots on a yellow giraffe or the sound of a rattle."
Designer Malin Unnborn, who designed the KLAPPA toys collection, wanted to find those specific details that could create curiosity and lead to play.
"For example, for the picture book and the ball I used colours with strong contrasts and fabrics with different structures, such as glossy and matte, soft and rough."
On the snuggle blanket, the play mat and the baby gym, Malin made shark fins, ears and other details that stick out just enough for small and curious fingers to pinch them.
KLAPPA became an entire world of imaginative animals, plants and planets to explore.
”Maybe it’s not that important for the baby that it's a crab looking up at the edge of the play mat”, Malin says. "But it can entice an older child to play with their younger sibling."
Krister feels that toys also play an important social function in the child's development.
"They act as tools for social interaction between you and your child, and it's you who gives the toys life and meaning."
For example, by naming a rattle 'a yellow giraffe', you can talk about it, and when you take turns holding the giraffe, an understanding in the child arises as to how they themselves are a part of a context. Play is based on interaction and is quite simply a necessity for a human being’s development, says Krister.
"To become a human being requires interaction with other people."
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.