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Plastic reborn

Taking steps to create a circular IKEA
Step one: Making the most of waste 

BY THERESE ÅKESSON


Imagine a zero-waste world. A world where say, discarded plastic drink bottles could be turned into new kitchens. Impossible? Not at all. It’s actually happening.

A new mind-set

“We need to find alternatives for a circular system” says Anna Granath, Product Developer at IKEA of Sweden, referring to the concept where waste is given new life. Not only is it a model for a greener and healthier planet, it’s also a mind-set. And IKEA is embracing it. By incorporating it every step of the way in the design and production process, IKEA aims to close the loop between harvesting materials, producing products and lab testing.

Roughly 25 half-litre plastic bottles are needed to create the matte black finish on each KUNGSBACKA front.

Living in a material world

It is not difficult to find a material that can be both renewable and recyclable. The difficulty arises when assuring a material is good quality - and safe. It also has to be a material that lends itself to manufacturing, and fall within the IKEA price range. KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts satisfied all these criteria. Together with the supplier in Italy, the team at IKEA of Sweden developed materials completely made entirely out of recycled wood and recycled PET-bottles.

Plastic being reborn.
KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts launched in February 2017.

Making a difference

”What we do has a big impact on the environment because IKEA works with large quantities. With the new material, we can avoid using an oil-based plastic and produce more sustainably, without having to compromise quality, form or price” expresses Anna.

Just the beginning

IKEA is pulling out all stops to become a fully circular business. And sourcing more recycled products is a good starting point. But that’s just one of the things that is taking place. They are also developing a circular supply chain and exploring innovative production techniques. Another key goal is to prolong the life of products and materials. Take the new sofa VIMLE for example. It’s built on a standard sofa platform where parts can be exchanged over time.

I’m made from the left over protective film that covers some IKEA products.


We’re made entirely from left over materials from IKEA bed linen production.


I’m a storage box made from PET bottles that have been transformed into plastic pellets.


We’re made of wood plastic composite, where 30% of the material is wood, a renewable source, and at least 55% of the remaining material is recycled plastic. This means it has less impact on the environment than virgin oil-based plastics.


We’re made from re-melted recycled glass rejected due to defects or bubbles.


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