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IKEA launches furniture take-back scheme

ikea circular

Riding on the momentum of Australia’s anti-waste movement, IKEA is now letting its Sydney customers return their unwanted furniture and goods to the Tempe store in exchange for a voucher to spend in-store.

The new Tempe scheme joins existing “Circular IKEA” programs that take-back sofas, mattresses, batteries and light bulbs in Australian stores.

Customers start by sending in images of the furniture to be assessed by a IKEA co-worker. If the furniture qualifies for the take-back service, customers will be offered a price for the furniture in the form of a voucher.

Customers then have 14 days to return the furniture and retrieve the voucher. The furniture is then sold at the same value as the voucher provided to the customer.

Similar initiatives have been introduced internationally. IKEA UK and Ireland are launching a textile take-back, and in Sweden, IKEA has introduced a dedicated online marketplace for customers to buy and sell second-hand products.

The company intends to take the scheme national, IKEA Australia sustainability manager Kate Ringvall told The Fifth Estate, with Tempe a test bed that will be used to gauge the community’s response before the scheme is progressively rolled out to other stores across the country.

As the expansion of the program hinges on community uptake, the company is looking for ways to streamline the process. As such, IKEA has teamed up with car share service GoGet to provide free hire vans for customers wanting to return their furniture. 

ikea circular

Office furniture is also at the back of Ms Ringvall’s mind for the program’s ongoing expansion. The company will consider including furniture from small businesses as part of the existing Tempe pilot, with available floor space the main restriction on what furniture can and cannot be included.

The new scheme falls under the Swedish-founded, Dutch-based multinational’s broader sustainability agenda, which is detailed in the company People and Planet Positive strategy, first published in 2012.

The company has committed to a range of eco-friendly objectives – including sourcing raw materials from sustainable sources and achieving energy independence – despite being the world’s largest furniture retailer off the back of its high-volume, low-cost business model.

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