Trends in furniture, just like fashion, are always changing. As pieces go “out of style”—or as older furniture starts to deteriorate or lack the support it once provided—it ends up getting tossed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the generation of furniture in municipal solid waste accounted for 12.1 million tons in 2018.
If you’ve ever had to furnish a new apartment or wanted to spruce up your current space, chances are you’ve shopped (and probably gotten lost) at Ikea. Now, the Swedish furniture company is making its shopping experience even more interesting. In order to achieve its ambitious goal (a few can be seen in its ‘People & Planet Positive’ Roadmap) to become circular and carbon positive, the company has just launched its Buy Back & Resell service.
While the best way to produce less waste is to manufacture less (and more high-quality) products, this step in the right direction will keep furniture out of landfills by enabling people to sell back their gently-used items in exchange for Ikea store credit.
How Ikea’s Buyback Program Works
Beginning with a pilot at a store near its North American headquarters in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, Ikea will be reselling items from its customers. When someone is interested in selling an item, they simply fill out a form online, which includes the condition of the item they want to sell. From there, Ikea will determine how much they can pay the consumer for the return.
The options are limited to certain furniture, including desks, chairs, bookcases, and a handful of other categories. Once the item is “returned,” it’s the job of the recovery department to make any updates that may be needed in order for the item to be resold. This doesn’t include removing or improving any cosmetic flaws.
When shopping, it will be easy for customers to identify these recovered items—they’ll be clearly marked and live in the store’s (even more affordable) as-is department. They’re also fully assembled. For those who may be wary about picking up used furniture from online marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist, this is a great option that allows you to shop directly at the store.
“At Ikea, we’re passionate about making sustainable living easy and affordable for many, and want to be part of a future that’s better for both people and the planet,” said Jennifer Keesson, Ikea’s country sustainability manager, in a press release. “We hope the Buy Back & Resell service inspires our customers to live a more sustainable life at home while giving their used furniture another life and a second home.”
The outcome of the pilot program in Pennsylvania will determine which parts of the program may need some tweaking, including the challenge of getting larger pieces of furniture to the store without disassembling them. This could be a struggle for consumers who can’t transport larger pieces.
After the pilot, Ikea’s plan is to add this service to additional markets across the U.S., then eventually make it a permanent service at all U.S. stores. With lofty goals of becoming a climate positive and circular business by 2030, this resell program seems like a good place to start.
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