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.
During the first few months of life, a baby usually sleeps for a large part of the day. Children have different needs, but it often involves about 15-18 hours of sleep per day. A bumper pad in the cot can contribute to a snug sleeping environment where the child does not hit their head, legs or arms against the hard slats. A bumper pad usually has a filling which makes it soft and comfortable.
IKEA has made many bumper pads over the years, but since we never really sit back and think that the job is done, we continue to renew and improve our models.
When we set out to develop LEN bumper pad, we wanted to find an alternative to the traditional filling usually made from new, oil-based polyester.
Danguole Gvaldiene, who works with developing new baby products for Children's IKEA, explains why:
"At IKEA, we've taken the decision to eventually stop using fossil-based materials. This is why we chose to use polyester for LEN, which is mostly made from recycled PET bottles."
Large quantities of PET bottles are used for consumer goods throughout the world. Most are thrown away, but more and more are recycled and turned into new products. Since the recycled bottles have been approved for foodstuffs, the material is safe to use in products for both adults and children.
Children's IKEA follows the world's toughest safety standards and often we go one step further, since children are the most important people in the world", says Danguole.
The filling's stability was also an important factor – a bumper pad must be sufficiently stable, yet designed so that a slightly larger child cannot climb on it, says Danguole. Together with the rest of the team she studied and challenged everything down to the small detail – so that LEN would be as good as it could be.
Sometimes it was about moving a touch and close fastening just one millimetre, and we went through many prototypes before we were finished."
Children's IKEA has its own safety experts at hand who test all products throughout the entire development process. Working with product development is important and requires time and attention to detail, explains Danguole.
"Our products are purchased by a lot people, and by improving our products and making them more environmentally sustainable, we actually embrace the opportunity to contribute to meaningful and positive change."
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.