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Ingka Group and RetourMatras showcase the circular economy in action

Ingka Group and RetourMatras showcase the circular economy in action, advocating for its growth through value chain collaboration. Ahead of the European Union elections in June and as part of the IKEA ambition to become a circular business, Ingka Group, the largest IKEA retailer, brought together policy makers as well as industry experts to discuss what is needed to remove barriers and to transition from a linear to a circular economy in Europe.

It was held at RetourMatras, a mattress dismantling and foam recycling facility in the Netherlands to show circularity in action and share IKEA's Policy Asks ahead of the next European Union elections (for 2024-2029).

'We call for legislation that supports the development of the circular economy – with the existing solution from RetourMatras it is possible to take back every mattress, 1.7 million, in the Netherlands and repurpose the material to be used again. This solution can be brought to many more countries with speed and scale, when we work together across government, society and companies – then we can assemble a greener and more sustainable future,' says Jesper Brodin, CEO Ingka Group I IKEA.

'Moving to a circular economy is essential for us to continue to meet people's needs and dreams while staying within the limits of one planet. Through our investment in RetourMatras we are on a journey to recycle the equivalent number of mattresses we sell by 2030. But we don't stop there, RetourMatras is transforming end-of-life mattresses from waste to resource and transforming the materials to be reused. Not only is it smart from a business perspective, but it also has a huge impact on the climate footprint and can have a positive impact locally,' he continues.

RetourMatras is a leader in mattress dismantling – operating six dismantling facilities in the Netherlands and the UK. The company has been in operations since 2011 and through RetourMatras' dismantling process, over 80% of the materials from a mattress can be recovered, including foam, textile, wood, and metal, and then be prepared for reuse.

In 2019, Ingka Investments, the investment arm of Ingka Group became a shareholder in RetourMatras and since then IKEA customers in Netherlands, Belgium and UK can take advantage of the mattress return service, that transforms the mattresses into valuable raw materials that are fed back into the economy including back into IKEA products.

'We are proud of the progress we are making in this important sector. In 2023, we dismantled over 1 million mattresses, which saved over 76 million kgs of CO2 compared to incineration. This means we are liberating roughly 16 million kilograms of materials so that they can be reused – replacing fossil-based materials. We hope that by hosting a range of stakeholders and taking the result of these discussions back to EU policymakers we can showcase with authority the legislative changes needed. For example, facilitating the shipment of end-of-life mattresses across EU borders for recycling, is one element that will help us have more facilities like this in the EU. Banning the incineration of mattresses that are perfectly fit for recycling is another, and that is the case beyond mattresses,' says Chico van Hemert, Managing Director, RetourMatras.

Since Ingka Investments made its investment in 2019, the business has been actively looking to build more mattress recycling capacity throughout Ingka Group's retail markets, and that includes ensuring there is sufficient recycling capacity in existing markets like the UK. Facilitating the transport of products like mattresses ready for recycling across EU borders remains a major challenge. It is one that national governments and the EU commission have the possibility to make easier, so more mattresses can find their way to facilities like RetourMatras.

More information:
Ingka Group

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