CONSHOHOCKEN, Penn. – Swedish furniture giant IKEA’s new line of kitchen cabinets is made from reclaimed wood planks and laminate coating made from recycled PET-bottles. The line, called Kungsbacka, launched in February.
Each year, the company says billions of PET-bottles are consumed worldwide. Some of them are recycled as material for new products, while the vast majority become waste.
“What we do at IKEA has a big impact on the environment because we work with large quantities. By using recycled materials, we can produce more sustainably,” says Anna Granath, product developer at IKEA.
Through a specific melding process, IKEA converts plastic bottles into laminate sheet. Bottles are cleaned, ground down into flakes, and then melded together to make sheets of foil one-quarter millimeter thick. The foil is applied to the planks using a light glue, and then painted black.
IKEA says that the cabinets are nearly completely – 99.9 percent – made up of recycled materials.
Granath began the project two years ago based on a vision to create a more sustainable kitchen front. Together with an Italian IKEA supplier, the team started to explore the opportunities that recycled material offers. The investigations resulted in the development of a new material on the market – a plastic foil made from discarded PET-bottles collected by Japanese municipalities.
“We found a way to transform used PET-bottles into a foil that is laminated on the Kungsbacka kitchen fronts. The biggest challenge was to create a foil from recycled material that fulfills the same quality requirements as a foil made of virgin material. We worked hard not to compromise on neither quality nor price”, says Marco Bergamo, head of development at the Italian IKEA supplier, 3B.
25 half-liter PET-bottles are needed to cover the black surface of a 40×80 cm Kungsbacka kitchen front. IKEA says this is an important step for the company on the journey towards a more circular business.
“We need to become better at using the planet’s resources in a smart way. Our ambition is to increase the share of recycled materials in our products. We are looking into new ways to re-use materials, such as paper, fiber, foam and plastic, so that we can give them a new life in a new product,” says Granath.