Ikea pilots UK textile take-back scheme

The world's biggest furniture retailer Ikea has launched its first UK-based textile take-back pilot, offering consumers in Cardiff the option to hand in unwanted purchases to be reused, repaired or recycled.

Items ranging from clothing to soft furnishings will all be viable under the scheme, which will work with WRAP to repair, recycle and donate products to the YMCA in Roath, Cardiff. The textiles will be passed on to the local community, including the homeless and low-income families.

Ikea’s store manager for Cardiff Matthew Fessey said: “With our vision to create a better everyday life for the many people, the textile take-back scheme in Cardiff will help our customers to live more sustainably while supporting people in need who are living in the local community.

“Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do and this scheme builds on our zero waste to landfill achievement last year across the UK & Ireland business. We also want to allow our customers to upcycle their unwanted goods instead of throwing them away, minimising the contribution to landfill.”

A national rollout of the scheme could commence if customer feedback from the Cardiff trial is positive.

Households and charity shops located in Wellfield Road, Albany Road and Colchester Avenue will benefit from weekly collections from the Ikea store. In-store workshops and training opportunities will also be provided to showcase how consumers can reuse old textiles.

WRAP estimates that while the UK consumes around 1.7m tonnes of textiles annually, more than 600,000 tonnes are sent to landfill or incinerated. Separate research has also found that 350 million clothing items are unused in the UK.

Ikea is working with WRAP as part of the latter’s EU Life+ funded REBus project. WRAP’s technical specialist Greg Lucas recently told edie that the project was bridging consumers and corporates in an effort to promote resource efficiency.

Live Lagom

The textile scheme follows on from Ikea’s existing take-back services, which include schemes for sofas, batteries and light bulbs in stores across the UK and Ireland.

Ikea has moved to champion the circular economy in recent years. The company sent zero waste to landfill across all of its UK and Ireland facilities in 2016, achieving a 90% recycling rate in the process.

Earlier this year, the retailer unveiled a new range of kitchen fronts made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles and reclaimed wood, eliminating the need for virgin, oil-based plastics in the range.

Ikea’s resource commitments fall under its People & Planet sustainability strategy. Under the initiative, the company has trebled the sales from its ‘sustainable life at home’ products, which are designed to promote sustainable living to its customers as part of a “Live Lagom” ethos that promotes the well-being of the individual alongside the protection of the planet.

Matt Mace

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