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Ikea, Neste pilot renewable plastics

New process to make polypropylene from waste oil is part of Ikea’s long-term plan to replace fossil inputs

by Melody M. Bomgardner
June 13, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 25

 

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Credit: Ikea
Ikea will use plastics made from waste oils to make its housewares.

This fall, Ikea and the Finnish oil company Neste will start commercial-scale production of polypropylene and polyethylene made from renewable feedstocks for use in Ikea goods. Neste will supply the inputs, which include vegetable oil and waste cooking oil.

The two firms first partnered in 2016 with the goal of producing common plastics with renewable raw materials rather than fossil fuels. Ikea has vowed to change all of the plastic used in its iconic household goods to biobased or recycled materials by 2030.

Neste makes primarily renewable diesel from waste oil but in recent years has been working to make plastics from a leftover fraction of the renewable oil.

To do so, Neste will send several thousand tons of plant-based crude oil to an unnamed plastics processor, which will make batches of plastic containing partially biobased content. Ikea has targeted 20% biobased content for certain product lines including plastic storage boxes. As the amount of available feedstock increases, the firm says, more products will follow.

While some products, such as Coca-Cola’s green-capped soda bottles, are made with cane sugar-derived polyethylene terephthalate, the Ikea project will be the first to produce renewable polypropylene.

“Together with Neste, we are ensuring that there is an opportunity to scale up the production of this material,” says Erik Ljungblad, Ikea’s manager of plastic products.

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