We live in the times when chemicals have unintentionally found their way in our everyday lives. From bringing colour to textiles, adding texture to materials, joining parts together, giving them a shape, they can even create a protective layer on products to help them last longer. But some chemicals can have negative effects on people and the environment. This is why IKEA believes good chemical management is vital and is committed to ensuring that chemicals are used in safe ways all the time.
Better chemical management
At IKEA, we draw on our over 75 years’ experience of everyday life at home to make sure we create products that are as safe as possible. We want our customers to always feel confident that products bought at IKEA are safe and healthy to use. IKEA products must not contain any harmful chemical substances and fulfil all legal requirements.
We know we have a big responsibility and we want to work with our customers in making the right choices. To help customers make an informed choice, details about the chemicals not used can now be found on specific items such as chrome-free leather sofas available in IKEA stores in the US, and on the local IKEA websites in some countries.
At IKEA, we are careful about the chemicals, we allow for use, basing our requirements on facts and science. In working with chemicals, we always ask ourselves if the chemical is needed, are there safer alternatives, and if not, is it worth including. For children’s products, our requirements are even stricter. We test all our children’s products at our accredited test laboratory in Sweden, as well as at independent highly recognised test laboratories and institutes around the world.
Ensuring safety and compliance
IKEA is working on good chemicals management on all levels of the business, across the entire value chain. To guide us in our work with chemicals, we created the IKEA Chemical Strategy in 2016 as a sub-strategy to our sustainability strategy, People and Planet Positive.
The five key objectives of our Chemical Strategy that we abide by include:
- increasing information on product chemical content;
- assess all IKEA products for chemical safety;
- phase out substances/materials that could be hazardous;
- ensure our suppliers share our values on chemical safety and compliance; and,
- increase awareness among co-workers, consumers and stakeholders on chemical safety and compliance.
In our endeavour to ensure that our value chain remains free from any harmful substances, we have detailed requirements on the use of chemicals in the manufacturing process. Our IKEA suppliers and service providers are crucial partners in our good chemical management plan and they must follow our defined minimum requirements when working with chemicals as well.
With these measures in place, we are able to ensure that all IKEA products conform to the strictest laws and safety standards in the markets they are available in. If one market tightens its rules, we introduce these new regulations in all IKEA markets where and when possible.
As a global retailer, we recognise that IKEA is in a unique position to drive change for the better. Innovations and research provide new opportunities to always improve. 25 years ago, IKEA took a big step by phasing out PVC (polyvinyl chloride) from most products. Today, PVC remains only in a few electrical products, and work continues to find replacements. In 2000, brominated flame retardants were completely phased out from IKEA furniture production.
Five years ago, IKEA banned the use of chrome in leather production. In 2016, IKEA phased out PFAS (water and stain repellant) chemicals from all IKEA textile products. Through a stepwise approach, IKEA now aims to reach formaldehyde emission levels from wood-based materials equal to the low levels emitted by natural wood.
And with the onset of COVID-19, more attention has been placed on the effectiveness and impact of using antimicrobials for products in the home, including furniture, to minimise the spread of diseases. Research has not been able to demonstrate a link between use of antimicrobials on furniture in homes and a reduced spread of diseases and overuse of these chemicals can have harmful effects on humans and the environment.
Because of this, IKEA has adopted a strict policy to avoid the use of biocides, as a general rule. While we make some exceptions, our first choice is always to avoid the use of biocides through careful material choice.
We are always searching for new and innovative approaches to strengthen our product range. While we don’t yet have all the answers, we are confident that we will get there soon.
The IKEA long-term responsibility
IKEA always strives to use materials, surface treatments and production techniques with the lowest possible emissions. IKEA supports legislation that eliminates known dangerous chemicals for products. For many years, we have engaged in research on chemical safety. Our chemical standards often go beyond legal requirements, and we often phase out chemicals that are suspected of being harmful in advance of legislation.
We’re on an exciting and challenging journey – to become 100% circular by 2030. In this journey, minimising exposure to potentially harmful chemicals is vital. But we cannot do this alone. Hence, we encourage policymakers to phase out dangerous substances using the chemical class approach and support manufacturers’ efforts to develop safer alternatives for those chemicals that cannot easily be replaced.
We have a commitment to you – we will make our products as safe as possible for you, your family and your environment, always.