Ikea eyes mushrooms, brewery waste in bid to completely phase out plastics

November 29, 2021 |

In the Netherlands, furniture and home goods giant Ikea has vowed to eliminate plastic packaging by 2028. 

While much of that plastic will be replaced with paper, some applications, like food, will require more outside-of-the-box thinking.  “Paper is a very good material to use because it does come from renewable sources, and it has quite strong circular capabilities,” Maja Kjellberg, packaging innovation leader at Ikea, tells Fast Company. “But we’re not limiting ourselves to paper. We do want to use other materials going forward. And we have an innovation program ongoing right now where we’re scouting on startups and scale-ups to find new ways of packing products and other materials that aren’t wood and fiber based.” 

Mushroom-based material has been considered to replace Styrofoam, but is not yet available at needed scale. Byproducts of beer brewing are also under consideration. 

The company has already made inroads, and currently just 10% of its packaging needs are met with plastic.  By 2025, the company hopes that its plastic packaging needs will be confined to just food products where the plastic imparts food-preserving properties or is required by regulations. Recycled and plant-based plastics are under consideration. 

“Plastic for now is, in many cases, the most sustainable option, compared to packing something in paper, and then the shelf life would be much lower, or you’d have more food waste, which is even worse from a sustainability point of view,” Kjellberg says. “So plastic will be used in food. But when we still have to use the plastics, we will make sure that they are from renewable sources or recycled.”

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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