IKEA will only use plastics made from renewable or recycled sources by the year 2020.
Per Stoltz, sustainability developer at IKEA, says the company will favor plastics made from second-generation sugar cellulosic sugars rather than plastics derived from food sources. IKEA may pay a price premium for the plastic, but will not pass that on to customers.
One obvious material for Ikea would be wood plastic composite (WPC) using wood waste generated in the production of Ikea products. Sawdust could be joined with polylactic acid (PLA), but work is required to achieve adhesion between hydrophilic wood filler and hydrophobic PLA.
Ikea previously produced a rocking chair called the Ellan that was made by Swedish plastics processor Nolato Alpha in a composite consisting of 51 percent wood waste and 49 percent plastic. IKEA said that the injection molded chair weighed less than pure plastic but with no sacrifice in mechanical properties. Another chair, called Ögla molded by Nolato Alpha from WPC was also previously produced by Ikea.
A new WPC molded chair was added to the PS collection in 2012.
Criteria for the company’s sustainability product score card include:
- Reduced use of materials;
- Increased use of materials made from renewable and recycled sources; and
- Designs that permit easy separation of parts that can be recycled.
WPC is not new; it has been widely used in decking and other construction products where wood waste is often combined with recycled plastic film. Polyethylene and PVC have been widely used in wood composites, but polypropylene is often used, particularly in Europe, for injection molded durable components. Global capacity to produce WPC is around 3 million metric tons with most of the capacity in North America and China.