Ikea has launched its long-awaited furniture buy-back and resale program, with the aim of reducing the number of products going to landfill.
The move is part of the retail giant’s sustainability drive to become “climate positive” by 2030.
Customers will receive in-store spend vouchers if items they no longer need are returned in good condition.
Ikea admitted the program was a learning curve, but decided to launch it after successful trials in several cities.
“I’m not saying we have all the answers, but we’ve learned enough from the pilots to tell us that this could have real value for us and our customers,” said Hege Saebjornsen, an environmental and sustainability expert at Ikea. . BBC.
The initiative, which was originally slated to launch in November but postponed due to the pandemic, is now available in Ikea stores across the UK. It is also being launched in the 26 other countries in which Ikea operates.
Used products returned in new condition without scratches will be purchased for 50% of the original price, while items with minor scratches will be purchased for 40%. Well-used furniture with multiple scratches will be purchased at 30%.
The items will be sold in separate areas of the stores, although Ikea has also announced a new partnership with Gumtree to sell second-hand products through the online marketplace.
Products eligible for redemption include dressers, wardrobes, bookcases and shelves, small tables, dining tables and desks.
The Swedish company has already announced plans to go fully ‘circular’ – eliminating waste through continued use of materials – by 2030. Ingka Group, Ikea’s parent company, recently announced that it is investing 4 billion euros in renewable energies.
Customers wishing to resell furniture go to Ikea.co.uk to fill out an online form, which generates a preliminary offer, and then brings the items to a store.
Ms Saebjornsen, former head of sustainability at the retailer and now an Ikea advisor to the upcoming COP26 climate summit, said what exactly consumer adoption will be is unknown.
But she said the trials, including in Sydney, Lisbon, Edinburgh and Glasgow, “were really successful. It taught us a lot about the appetite for it and how people behave.”
The second-hand market in general – from clothing to housewares – is growing rapidly as shopping habits change, and Ikea hopes to capitalize on that, she said.
One potential downside was that furniture had to come fully assembled, a possible barrier for people with heavy and bulky items.
“We have always found that people hire us [the scheme],” she said.
Ikea is working on how to improve product disassembly.
“Some are better than others. Products may be damaged when disassembled, so we can only really accept assembled products. This keeps the item safe and quality,” she said. .
Although Ikea offers vouchers, not cash, the program is not touted as a profit driver for the retailer, she said. Yet doesn’t that reinforce a new, disposable shopping culture?
“We took all of this into account,” said Ms Saebjornsen.
“It is very important to point out that the voucher has no expiry date. It can be used to buy another second-hand item or food.
“The real consideration here is that it’s about how we make a sustainable and healthy lifestyle easy, accessible and affordable, and really mainstream.
“Ikea is such a big company with huge potential to reach millions of customers.
“We’re not saying we have all the answers. But small actions can make a difference.”
The redemption service is available at large Ikea stores nationwide, excluding order and collection points in Tottenham Court Road, Norwich and Aberdeen. The service will launch in Reading and Belfast on May 17th.