IKEA on the Circular Economy: Consumer Behavior Must Change

IKEA on the Circular Economy: Consumer Behavior Must Change

It’s hard to enjoy sweet dreams as the mountains of mattresses in landfills are becoming a global environmental nightmare. According to an article in The Guardian, the U.S. alone throws away 18.2 million mattresses a year, but there are only 56 facilities available to recycle them.

Consumer behavior is behind this ever-growing conundrum — as retailers offer better and more affordable mattresses, consumers replace them more and more frequently.

“Changing consumer behavior is one of the ways to fix this problem,” said Marcus Engman, chief creative officer for Ingka Group, IKEA Retail, at the London Design Festival’s SAP-sponsored panel discussion about designing for a circular economy. “It’s not enough to educate consumers to adopt circular behavior patterns. They also need the facilities and infrastructure to actually behave with a circular mindset. So instead of discarding old furniture and mattresses in landfill, customers can return them to us for creating new materials out of low value waste.”

When asked what’s the next step after circular economy, Engman responded that circular economy is not about phases. It’s a mindset that will change the world. “We’re moving into a future where waste is the raw material. It’s about designing from the bottom up, and thinking in components,” he explained.