With today’s consumers now actively choosing companies that put importance on sustainability, the world’s major retailers have acknowledged this shift and are now taking reducing waste and recycling seriously. Furniture giant Ikea is one of those next wave companies doing just that. The company has this year launched its new fabric and upholstery collection Musselbloma which consists of bags, tablecloths and cushion covers, all made with materials from plastic waste collected from the ocean.
an. The collection, created by Spanish designer Inma Bermúdez, was first launched in Ikea stores in Italy and Spain but are now available in markets such as Australia, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway. “The plastic in our oceans today is a huge problem. It is harming wildlife, it is polluting ecosystems and it even ends up on our plates,” said Caroline Reid, sustainability development manager at Ikea Range & Supply. “We needed to take action about this and Ikea is determined to have a positive impact and to take responsibilities in areas where we can make a difference,” Reid said. “In addition to phasing out single use products, we wanted to turn plastic waste into a material for the future.” Reid said for the Musselbloma project, Ikea worked with other organisations and companies to create a scalable demand for the material. The company also collaborated with Seaqual, an organisation that works together with fishermen and other communities in Spain and other countries that collect marine litter. “Ikea is committed to becoming circular and climate positive by 2030,” Inter Ikea Group spokesperson Ferencz Thuroczy told Inside Retail. “Included in these ambitions is designing all Ikea products for circularity, and aiming to use only recycled and renewable materials. We see this as the future of design and a great opportunity to innovate and make Ikea even better and more relevant for many people.” Thuroczy said aiming to use 100 per cent recycled or renewable materials for their products is a Herculean task and may also be costly to the company, but according to him, Ikea is convinced that sustainability is the only way forward. “It’s an integrated part of our business strategy. By enabling people to live sustainable lives and making the sustainable option the default choice, we help our future business as well as the planet,” he said. Ikea’s Musselbloma collection uses polyester fabric that is made from recycled plastic, including PET plastic waste caught in nets in the Mediterranean Sea and collected by Spanish fishermen. According to Bermudez, they decided to create a bag as part of the collection because they wanted to encourage people not to use plastic bags. She said they also decided to use different types of green for the colour to add a feel of the sea which has different shades of greens and blues. Thuroczy said for every kilo of PET plastic waste that can be used to make the polyester fabric for the Musselbloma collection another 9 kilos of waste like other plastics, metal, rubber, glass and other materials is also taken out of the ocean. “With our size and scope, comes a responsibility, and an opportunity, to have a positive impact,” he said. “We are inspired by our customers seeking to live a more healthy and sustainable life, other businesses and policymakers making great strides to align with a 1.5°C world and our partners working to bring together the business community to set science-based targets for both climate and nature.” Opening 50 new stores Thuroczy said Ikea will open 50 new stores across the globe, both small and large format, in the 2021 financial year. “We continue to believe that we should meet the customers where they are whether it is online or offline,” he said. “We like to think about the physical stores and online as part of the same interaction with the customers in the market. Sometimes you want to see, touch and try a product in real life before your purchase, and sometimes you just want the convenience of online shopping and delivery.” “We are always looking into improving our Ikea concept and how we can become more accessible and in the meantime have a positive impact on people, planet and society,” he added. Construction of Ikea’s first store in the Philippines located in Manila has resumed with some 2000 construction workers on the site, according to Ikea’s Southeast Asia media team. Work on the project was halted last June due to the coronavirus outbreak. “The project is progressing well and the store is scheduled to open in 2021,” Ikea stated. “It will be the world’s largest Ikea store, with a supersized warehouse that will operate as an e-commerce fulfilment centre from the start. According to the furniture retailer, its online store in the Philippines will be launched months before the physical store will open. The company also mentioned it plans to expand its Philippine footprint by opening stores in Cebu City, Baguio, Ilo-ilo, Cagayan de Oro and Davao City in the future. Ikea Singapore has launched a recruitment campaign earlier this month to hire some 200 co-workers as it prepares to open a small-format Ikea store within a shopping centre, which will also open in 2021. In Mexico City, the company will launch its e-commerce operation in the coming weeks and the Ikea Oceania store is slated to open its doors in the first quarter of 2021.