Ikea’s Next Plastic Chair Could Be Made From Our Air Pollution

A California-based company has discovered a way to capture greenhouse gases to create plastic.
Jun 27, 2016·
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Plastic surrounds us.

From grocery bags and water bottles to gas caps and furniture, the petroleum-based products are ubiquitous, but the planet-warming emissions from their creation doesn’t have to be. Our chairs, bottle caps, and even laptop computer cases could all be part of the carbon emissions solution, capturing greenhouse gases within the plastic they’re made out of.

That’s the idea behind Costa Mesa, California–based Newlight Technologies’ plastic development process. It’s called AirCarbon, and instead of using petroleum or natural gas as the base for its plastic-making process, the company has developed a way to take carbon dioxide or methane—both potent greenhouse gases—mix them with a catalyst, and create a durable, flexible plastic compound that keeps heat-trapping gases from reaching the atmosphere.

Since commercialization in 2014, the company has contracted out more than 74 billion pounds of its AirCarbon plastic to companies including Dell, which is shipping its laptops in AirCarbon-based plastic bags; Sprint, which will sell AirCarbon phone cases; and Ikea, which signed an agreement in March to purchase 10 billion pounds of plastic from Newlight to use in its sustainable furniture products.

“We are in the process of testing and validating the AirCarbon material in injection-molding applications for furniture,” said Angelina Degerman, program manager for new business and innovation at Ikea headquarters in Sweden. “We do believe that our customers will see this as positive that Ikea takes a lead in bringing more sustainable materials and solutions to them at affordable prices. Now that we are on a journey to convert our range from virgin fossil to recycled and renewable, we believe our honest and transparent communication connected to the products is very important.”