Malin Nordin, Head of Circular Development at Inter IKEA Group.

Why the future of furniture is circular

We’re on an exciting and challenging journey – to become 100% circular. But what does this mean to the IKEA business and our customers? We chat to Malin Nordin, Head of Circular Development, Inter IKEA Group, to find out.

Why is it important to us to become circular?

“People are becoming more and more conscious of the impact their choices have on the planet. They no longer want to be wasteful and throw things away, and are seeking better value in what they buy. We know that resources are limited so we must find smarter ways to use them. It’s about extending the life of products and materials, seeing them as raw materials for the future and eliminating waste at every level.”

What does becoming circular mean for the IKEA business?

“We want to be circular in every aspect of our business. We want to make it easier for customers to acquire, care for and pass on products in circular ways, such as repairing, reusing, reselling, and recycling them. To do this, we are committed to designing all of our products to have circular capabilities from the beginning, using only renewable or recycled materials, and to developing circular capabilities in our supply chain. But we can’t do this alone. To get there, we are building new partnerships and cooperations with others. Our ambition is to be 100% circular by 2030.”

We will be designing all of our products to have circular capabilities from the beginning.

Malin Nordin.

Do you have any examples of collaborations?

“We investigated and followed waste streams around the world together with WWF. We wanted to find out which materials we could use and how we could introduce and set up processes to enable circularity in the future.

We also conducted the External Feedstock Project which led us to identify the 32 high priority materials in woods, plastics, papers, metals, and textiles, which have the fullest circular capabilities.”

Two tiny piles of recycled wood particles and recycled PET-bottle particles, used to make kitchen fronts at IKEA.
In a circular world, recycled plastic and wood become new IKEA products.

How are circular IKEA products designed?

“We work according to circular design principles, where products are designed to generate as little waste as possible from the very beginning. They are our way of ensuring that all products within the IKEA range fulfil our ambition to become fully circular.”

Our customers will see the results of our efforts over the next few years.

Malin Nordin.
IKEA product developer Anna Granath checking out the new KUNGSBACKA kitchen doors.
KUNGSBACKA kitchen doors are made from 100% recycled wood and plastic.

Do IKEA products already fulfil the circular design principles?

“Not all of the principles. While we have products that have some circular capabilities, such as the KUNGSBACKA kitchen doors which are made from 100% recycled wood and plastic, it’s still a work in progress. Our customers will see the results of our efforts over the next few years.”

Can you give any examples of how IKEA products contribute to prolonging the life of furniture today?

“One aim of circular design is to develop products that can be useful throughout the changing lives of our customers. For example, we have baby cots that transform into toddler beds, or modular products such as PLATSA storage solution or VIMLE sofa, where pieces can be added or taken away as needed, to adapt to constantly evolving needs.”

There is a growing awareness of the impact consumption has on the planet. Do you still want people to buy new furniture?

“We believe that you shouldn’t have to compromise on quality of life or products to act responsibly. People should still be able to refresh their space as often as they want to and improve their life at home, with functional, beautiful and affordable furniture of good quality, without damaging the planet. When the products are no longer needed, we encourage our customers to give their furniture a second life. This can be by repairing, reusing, passing them on, or recycling them. Today, we are already exploring future opportunities to find new solutions with many local IKEA initiatives. We are also looking for ways to turn materials from old products into resources for new ones.”