Ikea plans to make furniture from waste straw to offer farmers an alternative to the practice of crop burning, which contributes significantly to air pollution in northern India. The first prototype, from rice straw, will be made by end-2018, with products reaching stores in 2019, beginning with Hyderabad. The initiative is part of Ikea's Better Air Now project, and involves farmers, universities, non-profits, the government and the UN.
"If we can find a way to make use of rice straw it would become a valuable source for the farmers instead of being burnt, which in the end also would contribute to better air for people," Helene Davidsson, Sustainability Manager South Asia at IKEA Purchasing, told Fast Company.
Ikea is also developing air purifying products, and pioneering electric vehicles.
By offering to buy straw, Ikea is offering a viable alternative to the practice of burning agricultural waste, demonstrating the potential of the Circular Economy to create new economic value while tackling pollution and waste. Nine of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in Northern India. The issue has caused Ikea to shift its head office twice: first out of New Delhi to the satellite city of Gurgaon, and now to Bengaluru. Which other companies and material innovations could play a significant role in tackling pollution in India?