The days of strolling into an Ikea and plopping down a few dollars for a 10-pack of Alkalisk batteries are coming to an end. The Swedish furniture-and-meatball purveyor announced earlier this morning that, due to concerns over waste and sustainability, it plans to stop selling nearly all non-rechargeable batteries around the world by October 2021.
"IKEA globally sold about 300 million alkaline batteries last year, so we see great potential to inspire our customers to adopt new behaviors and use rechargeable batteries to their full potential“, said Emelie Knoester, Business Area Manager at IKEA Range & Supply in a statement.
There is just one exception, however: Some Ikea products rely on tiny, non-rechargeable button cell batteries, and the company plans to continue stocking those in the near term.
The company cites the results of several comparative studies as the main driver for its decision, noting that alkaline batteries have a more pronounced environmental impact than their rechargeable, nickel-metal hydride counterparts when used in "high-drain" devices like portable speakers and digital cameras. And as you'd expect, the environmental value of rechargeable batteries only grows the longer you use them.
Ikea claims that after ten charges of a NIMH battery "greenhouse gas emissions are lower as compared to using alkaline batteries to obtain the same amount of energy." And after 50 charges, "the overall environmental impact of NiMH batteries is equal or even less than the impact of using alkaline batteries."
Ultimately, Ikea argues that if everyone who bought those 300 million disposable batteries bought the retailer's reusable cells, used them in
"high-drain" devices, and recharged them 50+ times, we'd have 5,000 fewer tons of dead batteries in landfills. Now, considering how long it would take for those NIMH batteries to become environmental net-positives compared to disposable alkaline cells, the ramifications of Ikea's eco-friendly shift will probably take years to fully discern. Still, this is a massive global brand making a valuable long-term call, and we're glad to see it. Here's hoping Ikea decides to be just as fastidious about sustainability when its smart speakers and connected home gadgets hit the end of their usable lives.