Rice straws in a field in India.

Change is in the air. Turning waste into products.

While visiting northern India, Helene Davidsson - Sustainability Manager, Inter IKEA Systems B.V. - was shocked by the level of air pollution. Determined to help, she inspired the Better Air Now Initiative, which aims to reduce air pollution in the region by turning crop residues that would otherwise be burnt into renewable materials and products. The first result can be seen in the FÖRÄNDRING collection.

Rice straws being burnt in India. This residue from rice crops is now used for IKEA products instead of being burnt.

Rice straw is often burnt by small-scale farmers to make way for the new crop.

A global problem that hits hard in India

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air. Air pollution is particularly problematic in India, with 95% of India’s population of 1.2 billion people breathing polluted air every day. In fact, nine out of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in Northern India. One of the major contributors to India’s air pollution is the burning of rice straw, a rice harvest residue. Tonnes of rice crop residue are burnt annually in the Northern states of India.

Crop burning also emits black carbon which contributes to the melting of the Himalayan glaciers.

Helene Davidsson, Sustainability Manager, Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

A win-win solution for people and the planet

With our Better Air Now initiative, we worked out ways to turn rice straw into products like the FÖRÄNDRING collection of baskets, rugs and bowls. This not only results in beautiful, sustainably sourced products but also encourages rice growers to practice more sustainable farming. And in the end, we can all breathe a little easier.
Products from the FÖRÄNDRING collection in the shades of blue including rugs and baskets in different shapes.
FÖRÄNDRING – which means change in Swedish – is a collection made from rice straw.

Together is better

The long-term ambition for Better Air Now is to include other parts of India, and to share our pilot model with other crop-burning regions.

Air pollution is a global problem, so it’s important that we reach out and work together with others. We have joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a voluntary partnership of governments, inter-governmental organisations, businesses, scientific institutions and civil society organisations committed to improving air quality and protecting the climate.

Our goal, along with other members of the coalition, is to scale up solutions to crop residue burning, including the use of crop residues for product production and bioenergy.
Mauricio Affonso, Product Developer for IKEA GUNRID, holding up the air purifying white curtain inside a factory.
Mauricio Affonso, Product Developer for GUNRID.

Other steps to reduce air pollution

We are now also looking at turning rice straw residue into a new packaging material and as part of our efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels in our supply chain, we are exploring the use of rice straw for bioenergy. We’ve also developed GUNRID, an air purifying curtain to reduce indoor air pollution. The innovative textile breaks down common indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde.

In addition, the biggest IKEA franchisee the INGKA Group, is aiming for zero emissions from home deliveries by 2025. As of January 2019, INGKA has already achieved zero emissions target for Shanghai, a year ahead of schedule.

We are committed to actively reducing air pollutants and helping people to purify the air in their homes. We know that there is no single solution to solve air pollution and we are always in search of new ways to contribute to a world of clean air.