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Ikea to let Brits trade in old furniture

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
Members of the public queue outside an Ikea store at Wembley in north-west London as it re-opens its doors following the easing of the lockdown restrictions during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on June 1, 2020. - Some non-essential stores, car dealerships and outdoor markets in Britain on June 1 were able to reopen from their COVID-19 shutdown in an easing of coronavirus lockdown measures. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Under the initiative, those returning goods will receive amounts on a sliding scale depending on the condition of the product. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/ AFP via Getty Images

Ikea has launched a scheme which will allow Britons to return their old furniture to the Swedish retailer in exchange for shopping vouchers amid a push to reduce the company's carbon footprint. 

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

It said there was demand from shoppers in reuse as buying secondhand goes mainstream.

"We are supporting a healthy sustainable lifestyle, working together to move away from the linear model [in which used items are thrown away]," Hege Sæbjørnsen, sustainability manager of Ikea UK & Ireland said. 

Customers in the UK can now return or exchange products they bought for vouchers worth up to £250 ($348) to spend in stores across the nation. 

Ikea already operates the buy-back scheme in Sweden, France, the Netherlands and Canada.

Under the initiative, those returning goods will receive amounts on a sliding scale depending on the condition of the product. 

If the returned items are in good good or near new condition, customers will receive vouchers for 50% of the original price, with 40% for those with minor scratches and 30% for products that have been "well used." 

Items including dressers, it famous bookcases, shelf units, dining tables, and chests of drawers are all among the products eligible for the buy-back scheme.

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The scheme was intended to make it "easier for customers to acquire, care for and pass on products in circular ways," said Peter Jelkeby, the chief sustainability officer for Ikea UK and Ireland. 

To take part, customers have to fill out an online form which will generate an offer for the returned items before they bring it into the store to receive a voucher. Items must be returned fully assembled. 

The initiative, which was originally scheduled to launch in November last year as part of the retailer's sustainability drive to become "climate positive" by 2030, was delayed because of the COVID crisis. 

The scheme is also being launched in the other 26 countries in which Ikea operates.

Ikea is also trialing adding a label to used goods, describing where and when they were purchased, how they were used and why the previous owners chose to bring them back.

"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," Sæbjørnsen added. 

Ikea's parent company, Ingka Group, recently announced it was investing €4bn ($4.8bn, £3.5bn) in renewable energy.

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