Ikea transforms discarded uniforms into Växelbruk collection

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2024-04-09 17:11:24 – Netherlands

Ikea introduced new designs for employee uniforms in the past few year. However it found itself with hundreds of pallets of outdated uniforms. Instead of disposing of them in landfills, the company sought a way to repurpose them. The result is Växelbruk, a collection of home goods and bags crafted from fabric made with recycled fibers from Ikea uniforms. This line is now available in select European markets.

The collection includes throws, cushion covers, curtains, and bags, representing 300 metric tons of recycled uniforms collected from European markets between 2020 and 2022.

Luca Clerici, Ikea's business and innovation development leader, explained that the fabric is shredded to create fibers, which are then used to make new products. While the mechanical performance may be lower than virgin fibers, the overall quality remains high.

Color posed a challenge, as Ikea wanted to avoid dyeing the fibers to keep costs and chemical processing down. To introduce more variety beyond the blue and yellow hues of the uniforms, the team incorporated other fabric colors from industrial textile surplus.

During development, Ikea discovered that shirts from the new uniform line were too transparent for store employees. These pieces were repurposed to make bags for the Växelbruk collection, combining the uniform material with low-melt fibers for a woven feel. While most products in the collection are made from recycled materials, the tote bags contain some virgin polyester fibers to maintain their structure.

Clerici highlighted the project's role in laying the groundwork for larger recycling initiatives at Ikea, emphasizing cross-disciplinary learning and the positive impact on various aspects of the company.

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