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IKEA Aims to Turn a Swedish City into a Sustainable Community

In Spring 2021, IKEA plans to set up a dynamic marketplace, a community kitchen, a commercial local cultivation venue for urban farming and various other projects. Image Credit: IKEA

Swedish retailer IKEA is making significant steps to enhance sustainability by developing a sustainable community and scrapping non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. 

Sustainability is a key watchword in the quest to mitigate environmental damage resulting from human activity. As our modern world demands increased energy, the need to move to sustainable fuel sources has never been more pressing.

Swedish retailer IKEA is no longer satisfied just to help consumers transform their homes and workspaces into sustainable environments. The company is looking to build an entire community that is ‘green.’

The retailer, infamous for its flat-pack furniture with eclectic Swedish nomenclature, is developing a green community project called H22¹. But, it isn’t alone in this endeavor, an entire city is also joining in the quest for a model green community.

Helsingborg is a Swedish city located on the country’s south-west coast, previously most famous for its 700-year-old watchtower and footballer player Henrik Larsson. But now, the city could be at the forefront of a green revolution as part of its Quality of Life Programme.

“A smart city is a city in constant motion. A city that enables collaboration and participation for everyone in the city,” say Helsingborg representatives in a press release. “The innovation work in H22 has a clear focus; to improve quality of life for all the people of Helsingborg.”

H22 isn’t IKEA’s only revolutionary green policy that is set to take effect over the coming 24 months, however. The retail giant is also preparing to halt the sale of almost all of its non-rechargeable alkaline batteries by October 2021².

Building a Green Community

Various sites are being organized around Helsingborg, which should be up and running by the summer of 2022. Just in time for a 35-day summer fair. 

One of the first and most significant undertakings of the H22 project will be the development of Drottninghög. This will be the location of an urban farming marketplace, that will not only grow fresh crops at a sub-area called “the Garden” but will use them to prepare meals and sell them on at other sub-area called “the Kitchen” and “the Market” respectively.

The ultimate aim of the development that will take place at Drottninghög is the creation of new businesses and employment, and the “upskilling” of local residents.

Other developments will include Oceanhamnen  —  a converted waterside warehouse where IKEA will showcase modern production and manufacturing methods  —  and Fredriksdalsskogen  —  a forest that will connect the various areas and showcase the idea that urbanization and nature can co-exist. The latter location will also be an outside camping area that uses sustainable materials and possesses its own self-sufficient energy and water system.

Bidding Batteries Bye-Bye

Before the summer of 2022 rolls around, however, and by the end of 2021, the Swedish retailer will have already drawn a line in the ecological sand by curtailing the sale of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries.

To get a picture of how significant this move is, consider that across its 446 stores in 52 countries, IKEA shifts around 300 million alkaline batteries a year. 

The retailer’s decision is inspired by the findings of several recent Life Cycle Assessment research papers, which show the significant environmental impact of such batteries in comparison to other alternatives such as rechargeable, nickel-metal hydrate (NiMH) batteries.

These studies suggest that after 10 charges, a rechargeable NiMH battery delivers the same energy as alkaline batteries with significantly fewer greenhouse emissions. At around 50 charges, the total environmental impact of NiMH batteries is equal or even less than the impact of using alkaline batteries the studies say.

Much of this research does not even factor in the fact that such batteries can be reused and thus aren’t discarded as readily as their alkaline counterparts and the environmental impact of such batteries as waste.

Unfortunately, the retailer can’t, as of yet, phase out all single-use alkaline batteries. Some of the devices it sells rely on small watch-battery sized units, which will still remain on sale for now. 

With that in mind, IKEA’s stance on non-rechargeable alkaline batteries is commendable, and hopefully, could inspire other retailers to follow suit. 

We are on a journey to inspire and enable people to live healthier and more sustainable lives within the boundaries of the planet. By phasing out alkaline batteries and focusing on our range of rechargeable batteries, we are taking one step on that journey — offering customers an affordable and convenient solution to prolong the life of products and materials, and reduce waste.

Caroline Reid, Sustainability Development Manager, IKEA


1. ‘H22: We are curious about the Future Life at Home,’ []

2. ‘IKEA to remove non-rechargeable alkaline batteries by 2021,’ []

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Robert Lea

Written by

Robert Lea

Robert is a Freelance Science Journalist with a STEM BSc. He specializes in Physics, Space, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Quantum Physics, and SciComm. Robert is an ABSW member, and aWCSJ 2019 and IOP Fellow.


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