Circular Economy

In India, IKEA is going to use agricultural waste to make furniture - and tackle pollution

A farmer burns dried grass and twigs on his field near the proposed site of the Jaitapur nuclear plant in Ratnagiri district, about 360 km (224 miles) south of Mumbai, April 13, 2011. Farmers burn dried grass and twigs on the land before the planting season to introduce ash to the soil, a traditional method of increasing soil fertility.  REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ENERGY) - GM1E74D1EXK02

Post-harvest straw burning is a major source of air pollution in India. Image: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Suneera Tandon
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Circular Economy?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Circular Economy is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Circular Economy

Swedish furniture retailing giant IKEA believes it has a hack for Delhi’s pollution woes.

Just three months after it set up its first store in the country, the world’s largest furniture retailer today (Nov. 15) said it will start collecting rice straw from farmers in northern India to use it as raw material for the products sold here.

Currently, most farmers burn the straw post harvest as that is the easiest and most economical way to prepare the field for the next sowing season. The smoke from this stubble burning—a practice rampant across northern Indian states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, besides some regions in Pakistan—is one of the reasons for the thick smog that blankets Delhi every winter. The Indian government estimates that crop burning accounts for a quarter of the air pollution in India’s capital every year.

IKEA’s new plan may prove to be a way out.

India will be the first market where the company will convert paddy residue into raw material for its products. “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,” said Helene Davidsson, sustainability manager at IKEA Purchasing south Asia.

Have you read?

Paddy straw has various uses, including as fodder for cattle, compost, and making pulp for paper. While Davidsson did not share details on what the retailer plans to produce out of the straw, she said some prototypes are being worked upon.

The first prototype will be ready by the end of 2018 and be available for sale in IKEA’s India stores by 2019-2020. They will be gradually introduced in more markets, the Swedish retailer said in a statement announcing the initiative.

IKEA said it is working with NGOs, suppliers, and small-scale farmers to source and procure the residual rice straw. The company, however, declined to comment on the quantum of rice straw it will procure. The state of Punjab alone produces up to 20 million tonnes every year.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Circular EconomyGeographies in DepthNature and Biodiversity
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

What is the bioeconomy and how can it drive sustainable development?

Stefanie Ólives

July 12, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum