The coronavirus pandemic makes moving towards a circular economy even more urgent, says IKEA's head of circular design Malin Nordin, as the company announces a strategic partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Furniture company IKEA is aiming to become a circular business by 2030 and has partnered with circular economy advocate Ellen MacArthur Foundation to help it achieve this goal.
Nordin believes that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need to move away from linear design to a circular economy as it has made people more aware of the need for products to have longevity.
"It's a big shift that I would say has become even more important in terms of the pandemic," said Nordin. "We want to accelerate the shift."
"It has become even more important and relevant to take care of what you already have and prolong the life of products that you already have," she continued.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation advocates for a move to a circular economy by eradicating waste and pollution from manufacturing and consumerism by reusing resources. A report issued by the organisation states that 80 per cent of all materials are wasted in a linear economy.
The foundation's CEO Andrew Morlet explained the difference between a linear economy and a circular economy at Dezeen Day.
The home has become even more important
IKEA is looking at all 10,000 of is products to investigate how they can be designed to circular principles. Through its partnership with Ellen MacArthur Foundation it hopes to advocate for wider adoption of circular economic principles in its supply chain and further afield.
"What we realised quite quickly is that IKEA being a circular company on its own is quite pointless," explained Nordin. "We are interdependent of other businesses."
IKEA will promote the ideals to its supply chain, customers and designers, and the two organisations will develop a set of global definitions for terms surrounding circular design and aim to impact legislation.
Millions of people have spent considerably more time in their homes over the past couple of months due to lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus. Nordin hopes this will help costumers focus on the importance of circular design.
"We can see that from a consumer perspective, the home has become even more important â€“ the safe home," said Nordin.
"How can I then have home furnishing solutions? How can I take care of what I have at home? These become even more important questions, which I think taps very clearly to the thinking of circular economy and how you prolong the life and take care of and use the things that you already have," she continued.
"So I think that fits very well."
We need to move forward after the pandemic
Although much of the world is now focused on the pandemic and its economic impact, IKEA will not use coronavirus as an excuse to reduce its sustainability commitments said Nordin.
"What is clear, and has been clearly pointed out from our CEO, is that we will not detour from our commitment to our sustainability agenda, especially around climate and our ambitions to be circular company by 2030," she said.
"It is really emphasising even more that we would like to accelerate [the move to a circular business] and have solutions for our customers sooner rather than later."
IKEA is committed to the European commission's green recovery package, which aims to use the rebuilding after the pandemic to focus on achieve climate goals.
"We don't want to go backwards, we need to move forward after the pandemic in an even more sustainable way," explained Nordin. "It's a great opportunity to do that."
Read below for an edited transcript of the interview with Malin Nordin:
Tom Ravenscroft: Why is IKEA trying to become a circular business?
Malin Nordin: For IKEA the journey started quite some time ago. We started off, as many do, very much focused on materials and renewable recycled materials. We looked at how can we close the loop within our own company â€“ I think basically 10 years ago. But then around three years ago we began on a new direction. We want to be more affordable, we want to reach more people and also be a sustainable business.
How do we stay in tune with our customers and consumers? We want to reach more pe