IKEA’s Mission To Fix India’s Air Pollution Problem
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
IKEA has had an idea that they believe will help combat air pollution in Delhi, India.
Three months ago, the Swedish furniture giant set up its first store in India. On November 15th, they announced that they will begin collecting rice straw from the farmers in Northern India to use as its raw material for the products sold there.
At present, most farmers burn the rice straw after the harvest as it is the easiest and most economical way to prepare the field for the next sowing season. This practice is common across Northern Indian states and is one of the reasons why a thick smog blankets Delhi every winter. The Indian government estimate that crop burning accounts for a quarter of the air pollution in India’s capital every year.
IKEA plans to change all that. India will be the first market where the company will convert paddy residue into a raw material for its furniture products. Helene Davidsson, sustainability manager for IKEA Purchasing South Asia said:
“Starting off in India, IKEA wants to turn rice straw into a new renewable material source for IKEA products. The ambition is to create a model for how to reduce air pollution that could be replicated in other megacities.” (Quartz)
Davidsson did not share the details of what the retailer plans to produce out of the straw, other than to say that the company was working on prototypes. Currently, paddy straw has various uses including fodder for cattle and making pulp for paper.
The first prototype is due to be ready in 2018 and will be available for sale in IKEA’s Indian stores between 2019 and 2020. The hope is that they will then be introduced into more markets. Although it is not clear how much rice straw IKEA will require and therefore how much they will reduce India’s air pollution by, it will be a marked improvement to the alternative of all the waste rice product being burned.