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IKEA and Neste take a significant step towards bio-based polypropylene

IKEA Range & Supply, a develop, design, produce and supply subsidiary of Sweden-headed global furniture major Inter IKEA Group (IKEA) and Finland-headed oil refiner and renewable fuel producer Neste Oyj have revealed that they are now able to utilize renewable residue and waste raw materials in the production of plastic products. A pilot commercial scale production of the world's first large-scale production of renewable, bio-based polypropylene plastic (PP) will begin later in 2018.

Neste and IKEA have revealed that they are now able to utilize renewable residue and waste raw materials such as used cooking oil (UCO) in the production of renewable, bio-based polypropylene (PP) plastic (photo courtesy Neste).

IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and the planet while growing the business, which includes using more renewable and recycled materials and explore new materials for IKEA products. As part of this journey, IKEA is working to change all of the plastic used in IKEA products to plastic based on recycled and/or renewable materials by 2030.

Plastic is traditionally made from virgin fossil materials, which contribute to climate change and is a finite resource. By changing to plastic based on renewable material, IKEA can secure the production for the future, and eliminate the need for extraction of fossil fuel for the purpose of making plastic.

One of the ongoing projects towards eliminating virgin fossil-based raw materials in plastic products is a collaboration between IKEA and Neste, which was initiated in 2016. Thanks to this collaboration, IKEA and Neste are now able to turn waste and residue raw materials, such as used cooking oil (UCO), as well as sustainable vegetable oils into polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) plastic, some of the most commonly used plastics.

This new material represents a significant step towards a fossil-free future. No one has ever before been able to produce PP plastic from a fossil-free raw material other than on a laboratory scale. Together with Neste, we are ensuring that there is an opportunity to scale up the production of this material, said Erik Ljungblad, Category Manager Plastic Products at IKEA of Sweden.

The pilot commercial scale of PP and PE plastic, chosen to contain 20 percent renewable content, will start during fall 2018. The production of bio-based plastics will be based on Neste’s 100 percent renewable hydrocarbons. IKEA will use the new plastic in products that are part of the current product range, such as plastic storage boxes, starting with a limited number of products. As capacities improve, more products will follow.

The production of bio-based plastics at a commercial scale is a major achievement in the cooperation between Neste and IKEA, while it also marks a significant milestone in Neste’s strategy. IKEA is the first company to benefit from the developed supply capability that helps companies and brand owners towards replacing fossil-based raw materials with sustainable bio-based raw materials, said Senior Vice President Tuomas Hyyryläinen from Neste’s Emerging Businesses business unit.

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