Ikea unveils national buy-back scheme for used furniture in drive to become 'fully circular'

Ikea will start buying back customers' used furniture at stores across the UK and Ireland next month, in an effort to discourage "excessive consumption" and become a "fully circular" business by 2030.

Pictured: Ikea's Greenwich store

Pictured: Ikea's Greenwich store

The world’s biggest furniture retailer has confirmed that the scheme will be introduced from Friday 27 November, also known as Black Friday, to all stores in the UK and Ireland. It has chosen this timing to discourage people from taking part in the frenzied over-buying which the occasion is characterised by, encouraging them instead to think about resale, repair and customisation.

Under the scheme, customers will receive an Ikea refund card equivalent to a portion of their item’s original price, with the portion depending on its condition. 50% of the original price is the maximum and 30% the minimum. Items will then be resold as second-hand or recycled if they are not in a fit condition for resale.

Items including dressers, display cabinets, bookcases, dining tables and chairs, chests of drawers, children’s bed frames, small tables and chairs without upholstery will be eligible for buy-back.

Ikea has previously piloted new models of furniture rental and refurbishment and take-back schemes for textiles and furniture. However, this is the first time the retailer is expanding these initiatives into a national offer.

The firm’s country sustainability manager for UK&I, Hege Sæbjørnsen, said the initiative will drive progress towards Ikea’s 2030 goals of becoming “fully circular” and “climate-positive”.

“Being circular is a good business opportunity as well as a responsibility, and the climate crisis requires us all to radically rethink our consumption habits,” she said. “Currently, 45% of total global carbon emissions come from the way the world produces and uses everyday products, so Buy Back represents an opportunity to address unsustainable consumption and its impact on climate change.”  

Closing the loop

The statistic quoted by Sæbjørnsen comes from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s 2019 research on the role of the circular economy in the transition to net-zero. According to the report, keeping products and materials in use can reduce emissions per sector by up to 40%.

Ikea forged a strategic partnership with the Foundation earlier this year. Aside from expanding and promoting circular offerings, the partnership will help Ikea to change its design processes and lobby for policy changes where necessary.

Other companies working with the foundation include Google, Lego, DS Smith and BlackRock – the latter on its dedicated circular economy fund.

Sarah George



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