Ikea’s decision to only use sustainable plastic
Ikea is committed to play an active role for the reduction of single-use plastic, with the intention to raise awareness towards the huge amount of plastic waste in our environment.
Because of its durability, lightness and cheap prize, plastic is widely used to realize many kinds of products, however the improper discard of this material is provoking serious damages to our planet’s ecosystems.
The Swedish multinational group Ikea is engaged in leaving a positive impact on people and our planet. Therefore the company aims to become plastic-free by 2030 and to use only renewable or recycled materials. Ikea claims that it has already started the journey to replace single-use plastic and use more sustainable types of it for an increasing number of products. Also, in 2018 the company joined NextWave, an initiative which involves private companies, scientists and ONGwith the purpose of making use of plastic waste before it enters the seas.
Alexander Grouleff, Ikea’s Recycled and Renewable Plastic Products’ project leader claimed: “plastic is a durable and convenient material, usable in many application fields. We just have to be sure the plastic we use comes from renewable or recycled resources.”
One of the first step the Swedish company has undertaken is the elimination of all single-use plastic products in its assortment of furnishing outputs, including plates, glasses and straws. Since January 2020, all single-use products in Ikea’s restaurants, bistros and cafes are replaced with more sustainable disposable ones. The company is using materials made with renewable resources such as corn, sugar beet and sugar cane instead of virgin fossil materials.
PLA, polylactic acid, is different than most thermoplastic polymers in that it is derived from corn starch or sugar cane. Differently from common plastics, whose average life is between 100 and 1000 years long, PLA remains in the environment between 1 and 4 years, accordingly to where it is left. The perfect condition for its biodegradability is when temperature is higher than 60°C and humidity more than 20%.
PLA products are durable and safe, but with a minor impact on the environment. Moreover, it can be used in a wider areas of application, including products in high security rates’ categories, such as children’s items and materials in contact with food. Heroisk and Talrika are Ikea’s first collections of products entirely realized with PLA plastic. They can be safely put in microwave oven, dishwasher and recycled. Ikea’s plastic bag Istad is 85% made with a renewable material from sugar cane. Durable and resealable, Istad can be used several times, making it possible to easily reduce single-use plastic bags.
Musselblomma is Ikea’s collection of items inspired by marine ecosystem made with materials that does not belong to it: it consists of eco-bags, towels and pillow cases entirely realized with recycled plastic collected from the Mediterranean coast by 1.500 Spanish fishermen. A single pillow case is made by using eight 0,5l PET bottles, and forty-three of them can make one towel.
The fabric for Musselblomma collection is realized with 100% recycled polyester, made with PET plastic from the sea. For each kilo of plastic turned into yarn and fabric, other 9 kilos of other waste (plastic, metal, rubber, glass, etc.) are picked up from the sea in order to be reused or converted into new items.
This circular-economy project bears the signature of the Spanish designer Inma Bermúdez, who declared “we have created a simple, modern pattern using circles, squares and triangles combined with a fish-like shape. The colours were inspired by the sea: different greens and turquoises contrasting with a bright and cheerful coral pink”.
This collection highlights the Swedish company’s commitment in fighting marine pollution, demonstrating that also waste materials can be converted into a resource for the future. It hopes that this project will raise awareness of the vast volumes of plastic waste in the oceans and to play an active role for the solution.