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.
Rebecca is ready. She knows the reasoning and effort behind every aspect of the range, and she can explain how it will change life at home for the better. But her audience is enthralled with something she forgot could be exciting. “People were amazed with the remote,” says Rebecca. “That you could steer your lamps from wherever you are.” She laughs, pleased to be reminded it can be a delight to control the brightness or tone of a bulb remotely. “When you work with it so closely you get used to the products and the things they can do,” says Rebecca. “So, when you hear people ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ over the design and function of the remote—which I see every day—you feel very proud of what you’ve accomplished.”
Smart lighting is one way we’re using technology to improve life at home. Imagine a cozy weekday family dinner, lights glowing soft and warm. When the meal is done, the table is cleared for homework, which calls for clean, bright light. The goal of Rebecca and the Smart lighting team is to make that transition simple and smooth. Literally, it can be at the touch of a button. “Lighting is such an important part of life at home,” says Rebecca. “You do so many activities every day at home and the light needs to support you in doing all these things.” The range is made up of products that can be combined to create a personalized home lighting solution. It includes LED bulbs, panels and cabinet doors that can all be controlled by a remote. You can dim them and even change the tone of the light, from warm to cold. One remote can control up to 10 Smart lighting products.
Smart lighting technology isn’t new, but so far it hasn’t been so accessible. “It’s been very expensive and complicated,” says Rebecca. “If we can develop Smart lighting that’s easy to understand and affordable, it actually becomes accessible to the many people.” When it comes to cost, Rebecca and her team set a personal goal. “What would we want to pay for a light bulb like this?” asks Rebecca. “We’ve been going back to this idea throughout the whole process.” Working with large volumes has helped lower costs and by collaborating with experienced tech suppliers, we’ve been able to find smart ways to save. Those savings are then passed on to the customer.
By offering “kits” that have everything you need to get started, we make it easier to have Smart lighting in your home and if you end up wanting to expand your solution, it’s simple. “You can start with the function that suits you and your family’s life, and you can build on that,” says Rebecca. You can look forward to even more Smart lighting products from IKEA in the future. “There will be upgrades and new things customers can do to improve and build on the system,” says Rebecca, who sees a fuss-free future where very little can interrupt a lazy afternoon. “If you sit on your sofa and want to turn on the light, but the light switch is over on the wall, well, obviously with the wireless remote you don’t actually have to get up!”
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!