Amsterdam, 20 June 2018 – IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, announced new sustainability goals last week. All branches worldwide have to remove all single-use plastic stores and their own restaurants within 1.5 years. This includes products such as straws, plates, cups and bags. Furthermore, the company wants to become truly circular. Ikea’s People & Planet Positive Strategy includes the goal to only sell products that can be repurposed, repaired, reused, resold and recycled by 2030.

The People & Planet Positive Strategy stems from 2012, but has now been fine-tuned and made to be compliant with the global sustainability goals of the United Nations. IKEA states  that they have made great progress since 2012, but that’s ambitious sustainability commitments and rapid action. The adapted strategy will be evaluated every year. Since IKEA can not meet these goals alone, they are involving everyone: staff, suppliers and customers.

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “In order to counteract the plastic pollution, the use of plastic has to be drastically reduced. Rapid action is absolutely necessary. We are delighted that IKEA realises this and that they are taking the step that we’ve long been calling for. Apart from the reduction of single-use plastics, we are also strongly urging IKEA to take a serious look at the synthetic fibre loss of many IKEA products. We believe there’s even more to be gained there.”

Plastics found in the deepest part of the ocean

Amsterdam, 30 May 2018 – For thirty years, plastic pollution has been monitored in the deep sea. The outcomes of this study were recently published in the journal Marine Policy. They show for the first time that plastic pollution occurs at depths of 6,000 metres and beyond. In the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans, a plastic bag was found at 10,898 metres. Most of the research was carried out in the western Pacific Ocean where 1,109 larger pieces of plastic were found at great depth. Eighty-nine percent of them were single-use plastics. The highest concentration of plastic was found at around 6,000 metres depth, with 335 pieces of plastic per square kilometre.

As no light reaches these depths, there is little life here. However, these areas display a striking phenomenon. Fissures in the earth’s crust mean that minerals from the hot and cold layers enter the water. These minerals are a source of food for so-called chemosynthetic bacteria. In turn, these bacteria are the base of the local ecosystems that include giant tube worms, different species of fish, corals and sea anemones. Photographs around the cold fissures show organisms entangled in plastic.

Up to now, little is known about the quantity of plastic in the deeper parts of the ocean. This is worrying because life at these great depths is highly vulnerable to disruptions in their very slow growth rates. It is therefore essential that more research is done into the quantity of plastic in deep sea ecosystems and any potential harmful effects.