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.
The designer Jonas Fritzdorf has three children of different ages. As a parent, there was one thing about highchairs that always bothered him. ”We tried many different functional highchairs, but all models had outward angled legs that we constantly ran into”. Jonas thought about solutions, but never had the time to see them through. Several years later, he was reminded of the problem.
”I sat in a restaurant and saw how the waitress time and time again bumped into the legs of a highchair. I thought it was time to bring those ideas to the drawing board again”. Jonas contacted IKEA. Luckily, our product developer Hanna Ahlberg was just about to look in to new highchair models. They started brainstorming together.
Highchairs with four legs often look the way they do because the legs must be angled outwards for stability. Jonas gave LANGUR a stable design using two L-shaped runners angled towards the chair's backside instead. Jonas and Hanna also developed an insert where the child sits secure and stable. When the insert is removed, LANGUR becomes a junior chair. Now Jonas's children have grown up and a highchair is no longer needed. ”But I think it was good that the ideas could mature a long time and that I didn't design this chair 'in the heat of the moment',” says Jonas smiling. ”It became a better chair by being the subject of an entire team’s focus and going through the safety tests which IKEA performs”.
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!