Recharging for a more sustainable future

A lot of customers tend to believe rechargeable batteries are complicated and expensive. So, we challenged ourselves to offer our customers a simple solution. IKEA has created a long-lasting rechargeable €1 battery that’s ready to use. If that’s not enough, these batteries also reduce waste as they don’t need to be disposed of frequently, thereby keeping the planet clean. We sat down with Jimmie Eriksson and Gizem Harut to learn about IKEA focus on rechargeable batteries and how will these influence IKEA products in future.

Jimmie knows a thing or two about batteries. The product design engineer at IKEA has worked with batteries for over a decade, witnessing the evolution from traditional alkaline batteries to high-performance rechargeable batteries.

But he has also realized that a few hesitations still exist in customer’s minds when it comes to rechargeable batteries.

So, over the last two years, Jimmie has put his ears to the ground to really understand what customers need and deliver it to them. What he learnt was that IKEA customers want pocket-friendly, easy to use, well-performing batteries that could save money and reduce waste at home.

The result is the new range of LADDA batteries.

“My main point with LADDA is that it’s a perfect rechargeable battery at a price point that would make it easy for everyone to buy and use it. I think what we have created is a very competitive battery that is hard to beat on quality and performance,” Jimmie says.

“We have not compromised on the quality, performance or capacity to create the low price. We optimized the whole supply chain, be it the chemicals used or the supplier we collaborated with, to achieve this price point,” says Gizem, product design developer at IKEA.

IKEA will remove non-rechargeable alkaline batteries from the range. Jimmie Eriksson, Product Design Engineer at IKEA.

Rechargeable batteries are not new for IKEA. But the focus on rechargeable batteries is part of IKEA’s decision to remove all non-rechargeable alkaline batteries from the global home furnishing range to enable people to live a healthier and more sustainable life at home. IKEA globally sold about 300 million alkaline batteries in 2019.

Why rechargeable batteries make sense?

With the decision to phase out non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, IKEA wishes to inspire consumers, who need to use batteries frequently, to make a switch to rechargeable batteries. Studies indicate that regular use over time enables consumers to both save money and reduce waste at home.

“The focus on rechargeable batteries is directly connected to solid waste reduction and cost reduction for the customer. It will be a lot more convenient for customers to use rechargeable batteries for a lot of products. The LADDA battery, for example, can be charged over 500 times. You don’t need to buy new batteries all the time; you can reuse them. It saves a lot of money in the long term and will also save the planet from a lot of waste batteries, which would be the case if you only use alkaline batteries,” says Jimmie.

Gizem Harut, Product Design Developer at IKEA.

Using rechargeable batteries like LADDA make sense for products such as gaming controllers, torches, and kids’ electronic toys, and point-and-shoot cameras, among others.

Also, just like TVs and cell phones, rechargeable batteries have evolved. For example, unlike earlier rechargeable batteries that would go blank if left uncharged for about a month, batteries like LADDA have a much longer charge life. Also, rechargeable batteries are now ready to use, unlike earlier days when they needed to be charged first.

“Our tests have shown that LADDA, in many cases, is a better option because in alkaline batteries, the voltage drops drastically. But with LADDA, it drops just a bit and then it maintains the same. This is better in the long term. So, when you use LADDA, you would have a more consistent voltage on the product,” says Gizem.

The LADDA batteries have gone through an array of tests, which demonstrate that these batteries would not catch fire, explode or start leaking. These tests are based on foreseeable and unforeseeable conditions in which customers are expected to use these batteries at home.

Some of the other tests include – the mechanical shock test, which’s carried out to ensure the crash hazards of these batteries; the thermal abuse test, which included putting the batteries in really high temperature; and the forced discharge test to examine the short circuit of the batteries.

Choosing to use rechargeable batteries also helps the environment. It has been observed that after ten charges of a rechargeable NiMH battery, such as the LADDA range, greenhouse gas emissions are lower as compared to using alkaline batteries to obtain the same amount of energy.

Habit of charging

Almost everything we use in our daily lives – from our cell phones to tablets, notebooks to laptops, and smartwatches – is powered by batteries and needs charging. In addition, the number of electric cars is steadily rising around the world, and their batteries need charging as well.

People are gradually understanding and accepting that batteries need a recharge to keep working. As a result, over the years, recharging of batteries has become less of a disruption.

To make it even more convenient for customers and ease away the perception that rechargeable batteries as complicated, IKEA has also launched a more affordable battery charger.

“We have worked very closely on the batteries and the battery charger to make sure they work as good as possible together. The customers shouldn’t need to worry about the charging of the batteries,” says Jimmie.

After LADDA, the focus at IKEA now is to have more products that will make the experience of using rechargeable batteries easier for customers. These could include smart lighting, clocks, and new remotes.

“We want to make it easy for our customers to replace alkaline batteries with rechargeable batteries. For us, it starts with changes in product designs, electrically and technologically, and we will continue to offer products and batteries that perform well and are good for the environment,” says Gizem.