A re-usable plastic water bottle being removed from a handbag.

Eliminating single-use plastics – and keeping plastic waste out of our oceans

There is currently over 86 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans. If things don’t change, there will be more plastic waste than fish by 2050. We want to take our share of responsibility for the problem. In 2018 we committed to removing all single-use plastic products from our home furnishing range, restaurants and bistros by January 2020. We’re also working to prevent more plastic waste from entering the oceans and exploring ways to create products out of ocean-bound plastic.

The consequences of plastic pollution are severe, and we are determined to contribute to its solution in a positive and proactive way.

Lena Pripp Kovac, Head of Sustainability, Inter IKEA Group

Kicking it old school: strawless drinking.

In 2018, we started phasing out single-use plastic straws, plastic plates, plastic cups, freezer bags, bin bags, and plastic-coated paper plates and cups from our stores. Most of these items can easily be replaced with multiple-use products. Where there isn’t yet a suitable alternative, we will leave a gap until we find one.

“There are challenges,” explains Caroline Reid who is responsible for this initiative. “For example, we haven’t been able to replace the plastic-coated paper cups used in our restaurants and bistros. To take a step in the right direction, we’re going to start using plastic from renewable sources.” Removing single use plastics also calls for a change in consumer behaviour. “We all need to get into the habit of using multiple-use containers instead of single-use freezer bags, for example, and to drinking the old-fashioned way, without a straw,” says Caroline.

Plastic straws have become a symbol for the problem of ocean plastics.

Caroline Reid, Project Manager, IKEA of Sweden AB
The last straw. Plastic straws will soon be part of IKEA history.

Collaboration on ocean-bound plastics

To help prevent used plastic products ending up in the oceans and waterways, IKEA of Sweden AB teamed up with the NextWave Initiative. Members of NextWave engage with leading technology and consumer-focused companies, scientists and Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to integrate ocean-bound plastic into consumer products. Joining this group gives us the opportunity to collaborate with other companies and develop a global network of ocean-bound plastic supply chains.

A green plastic bottle being held against the sky with the sun shining through it.
Ocean-bound plastic refers to any plastic waste found within 50 km from a waterway such as a river, lake or sea. If not collected, it will eventually make its way to the open ocean, adding to the more than 86 million metric tons of plastic waste already there.

From rubbish to raw material

Our long-term ambition is to make ocean-bound plastic available as a raw material for use around the world. As a first step, we’re demonstrating the potential of ocean-bound plastic by developing a series of new product prototypes made out of PET bottles caught in fishing nets by Spanish fishermen.

We want to make ocean-bound plastic into a commodity for the future and to take initiatives to prevent plastic from ending up in the ocean in the first place.

Lena Pripp Kovac, Head of Sustainability, Inter IKEA Group