Recycled wood in one hand, recycled plastic in the other

Upcycling: design with a future

Five IKEA products show how recycling opens up new prospects when it is consistently used through to production.

Waste production is increasing globally year after year. New approaches to dealing with waste materials, are therefore more in demand than ever before. At best, these innovations intervene in the production processes and focus on the resources. The buzzword for this is: upcycling. New, high-quality products can be produced from waste products such as plastic, paper or glass using the right recycling strategy.

Plastic made from recycled PET bottles and recycled wood in clear containers

This requires a new awareness of the value of waste products as well as a detailed analysis of the materials and procedures. Where can we intervene in the waste disposal process and establish new recycling cycles from it? And how do upcycled products stand up in terms of quality as well as aesthetics? Transdisciplinary strategies are needed to answer questions like these. IKEA is working with teams of factory managers, technical experts, designers and material scientists in upcycling projects. In numerous material studies, prototypes, tests and revisions, they are gradually moving towards breathing new life into waste products.

Desk pad made from waste plastic: SKRUTT

Transport pallets carrying fragile products are wrapped from top to bottom with plastic film to provide optimum protection for the goods. However, this can result in a huge amount of waste, because when the plastic reaches its destination, it has fulfilled its purpose. This is not the case with SKRUTT, a black desk pad for the office, which was developed as part of IKEA’s first upcycling project.

The SKRUTT desk pad on a desk with notebooks and pens

Half of the product is made from recycled plastic transport film which is collected and then sorted, ground up, washed, dried and filtered at the destination. The recycling granules then go to the IKEA supplier, where they are mixed with a small amount of new plastic, dyed, moulded and cut into desk pads. Therefore, SKRUTT is not just a simple accessory for every desk but also a prime example of sustainable resource management.

SKRUTT is not currently available in Switzerland.

Info graphic showing the recycling process of the SKRUTT desk pad

PET plastic recycling at its best: KUNGSBACKA & KUGGIS

Global consumption of PET plastic bottles is huge: around 100 billion PET bottles are bought globally every year. The proportion of recycled bottles is still at a relatively low level of around 30 percent. It is also not always clear if and how collected bottles are reused. KUNGSBACKA is a modern, simple answer to the question of what should happen to the collected plastic bottles. The kitchen system is covered with a matt-black film made from reused PET bottles which were melted down, dyed and processed into plastic film, while the kitchen cabinet boards are made entirely from recycled wood. KUNGSBACKA is a discreet reminder in a normal kitchen that it is worth collecting every single plastic bottle.

A designer checking the film made from recycled plastic for the KUNGSBACKA

Left info graphic showing the recycling process of the KUNGSBACKA, right info graphic showing the finished KUNGSBACKA kitchen furniture

KUGGIS, a practical storage system, is also made from granulated PET bottles. The elegant boxes in different sizes are ideal for collecting paper, used glass or PET plastic and can therefore be used to continue the recycling cycle at home.

Old glass, new look: PS 2017

Not every object comes out perfectly in glass production. But what happens to the flawed pieces? They can be the basis for beautiful, new home accessories such as the multicoloured glass vases in the PS 2017 collection. IKEA developed the recycled-glass collection in conjunction with the supplier to a Chinese glass factory. Glass that is not sold because of blisters or production mistakes, is melted down again to be used for the PS 2017 vases. This involves achieving the right quality and creating beautiful colours and patterns. The result is a vivid vase whose features are left to chance. Although the entire collection is hand blown using the same technique, the individual pieces develop a unique appearance because the glass is melted together with completely different remnants from the partner glassworks.

Left info graphic showing the recycling process of the PS 2017 vases, right info graphic showing the finished hand-blown vases

Light material with heavyweight potential: M-Board

There is furniture from all possible materials from wood, to glass, metal and concrete. However, household objects made from paper are rarely seen even though this resource is consistently collected and recycled. M-Board is laying the foundations to change this trend. IKEA has developed the lightweight material in recent years: 90% of the new, inexpensive and eco-friendly sheet material is made from recycled paper which was previously used at IKEA for packaging and transport purposes. An M-Board has the same strength as a conventional board – such as MDF. It is being used for the first time in the STUVA children’s wardrobe and shows that upcycling is in no way lagging behind aesthetically. And last but not least, the recycled material is 100% recyclable.

Left info graphic showing the M-Board recycling process, right info graphic showing the unprocessed M-Board boards

Children's room with the white STUVA children's furniture

Sustainable comfort on a new level: ODGER

Five years after the development of the SKRUTT desk pad, the potential of recycled plastic has also reached furniture design – and it speaks for itself! ODGER is the result of a partnership between IKEA and the Swedish design studio. The elegant chair, which is coming onto the market this year in white, blue and natural brown, is made from recycled plastic (70%) and reused wood (30%). All the shapes and angles of the new ODGER chair help to ensure the best possible seating comfort. The visible recycled wood flakes make the seat’s surface visually appealing and subtly refer to the material’s previous history.

Left info graphic showing the ODGER recycling cycle, right info graphic showing the ODGER chair in brown and blue

Tags: Democratic Design Design design paper Papier Recycling Sustainability

Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2018