Retail

Ikea UK to buy back unwanted furniture in recycling push


The UK’s biggest furniture retailer, Ikea, will launch a scheme to buy back unwanted furniture from customers to resell as part of the Swedish group’s efforts to reduce its impact on the environment.

The group has pledged to shift towards a circular model of consumption where items it sells can be reused, recycled or rejigged rather than dumped.

Sideboards, bookcases, shelving, small tables, dining tables, office drawers, desks, chairs and stools without upholstery, all previously bought from Ikea, can be taken back after customers register a request online. Customers won’t need to scramble for their screwdrivers – the recycled items will all be sold ready assembled.

Shoppers returning items will receive a refund card worth up to 50% of their original value to spend in store, with the value calculated according to the condition of the items returned. The used furniture will then be sold in special areas in Ikea stores and via Gumtree, the online marketplace.

Hege Sæbjørnsen, sustainability manager of Ikea UK & Ireland, said there was demand from shoppers in reuse as buying secondhand goes mainstream.

“All retailers have to take this movement seriously. We have to remain relevant. Companies that don’t really follow this and work with customers and the movement will find themselves not providing the services or needs that customers are asking for. It is also the right thing to do,” she said.

“We are supporting a healthy sustainable lifestyle, working together to move away from the linear model [in which used items are thrown away].”

A rising interest in buying secondhand has recently seen Asda begin selling preloved clothing in 50 of its supermarkets and the likes of Asos, Selfridges and John Lewis selling vintage items. Music Magpie, the online specialist which trades in used phones CDs, books and DVDs, recently launched on the London stock exchange.

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Ikea’s nationwide UK scheme, delayed from a planned November launch by the coronavirus lockdowns, has been tested in Australia and Portugal as well as stores in Scotland where 10,000 items were brought back in just under a month in the autumn.

Some children’s products will also qualify for the scheme with those selling items being given the option to fill in a “pre-loved label” giving details about the item’s past.

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Peter Jelkeby, retail manager for Ikea UK & Ireland, said: “Through buyback we hope to make circular consumption mainstream; making it easier for customers to acquire, care for and pass on products in circular ways.

“As we move towards our goal of becoming fully circular and climate positive by 2030 we will continue to take bold steps ensuring that, by then, all products will be made from renewable, recyclable and/or recycled materials; and they will be designed to be re-used, refurbished, re-manufactured or recycled, following circular design principles.”

He said that about 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions were connected to homes and so small actions taken could make a difference. “As one of the biggest brands in the world, we recognise our unique opportunity to help lead that change,” he said.



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