Swedish home furnishing retailer Ikea has come out with an idea to turn rice straw into a renewable material source for Ikea products, at a time when stubble burning has become a major contributor to air pollution in North India.
It would introduce the first prototypes based on rice straw by the end of this year and has plans to start selling this in India in 2019-20. It would gradually expand to other global markets, Ikea said in a statement.
The lmhult-based company, under its 'Better Air Now' initiative, aims to take action on one of the largest global environmental issues, starting off from India.
Ikea is working with central and state governments, private companies, innovators, NGOs, suppliers and farmers and the long-term ambition is to contribute to villages reaching zero rice straw burning, it added.
"Ikea works continuously to contribute and enable healthy and sustainable living. One of our main priorities is clean air and the 'Better Air Now' initiative is an important step on this journey," said Lena Pripp-Kovac, Sustainability Manager, Inter Ikea Group.
As a first step, the initiative focuses on the northern parts of India, including the NCR that covers cities such as New Delhi, Gurugram and Faridabad.
"The ambition is to expand the initiative to other areas of the country and to create a model for reducing air pollution in other mega cities of the world," it added.
According to the World Health Organisation, around 90 per cent of the people worldwide breathe polluted air, which is estimated to cause seven million deaths per year, it said.
India is one of the most polluted countries and North India has 9 of 10 most polluted cities in the world and burning of rice straw, a residue from rice harvesting, is a major contributor to air pollution and smog in India.