In Brief

Ikea to buy back unwanted furniture in ‘green’ scheme

Return your ‘Billy’ bookcase and get vouchers in exchange

With people worldwide spending more time at home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, sales of furniture and interior items have soared.

But house-proud consumers are also becoming more environmentally savvy too, leading to increased demand for recycled or sustainable home products.

And now Ikea is getting in on the act, by launching a new scheme that encourages customers to return unwanted furniture from the global chain to be resold or recycled in return for vouchers.

Furnishing frenzy

The Covid-related furniture boom has left factories “unable to keep up with demand”, as families “spend big” on improving their homes, says The Guardian’s money editor Patrick Collinson. 

Peter Campbell, finance director of Long Eaton Sofas, told Collinson that “sales have been flying ever since we came back from lockdown”.

With millions of people saving money on commuting costs and trips abroad, more cash is being invested instead on household items such as sofas. And home artwork sales are up by 50% year-on-year - a trend that industry insiders attribute to the so-called “Zoom backdrop” effect. 

But sustainable living is also “hot, hot, hot” this year, according to Livingetc, which points out that the availability of “eco-friendly concepts, recycled products, biodegradable designs and stylish takes on natural materials” is making it easier than ever for homeowners to be green.

Swap that old ‘Billy’ bookcase for vouchers

Swedish group Ikea is joining the eco-friendly push by launching a second-hand “Buy Back” venture. From 27 November - Black Friday - the chain will buy back unwanted furniture from customers to resell or recycle. 

Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager for Ikea in the UK and Ireland, said: “Sustainability is the defining issue of our time and Ikea is committed to being part of the solution to promote sustainable consumption and combat climate change. 

“With the launch of Buy Back, we are giving a second life to many more Ikea products and creating more easy and affordable solutions to help people live more sustainably. It is an exciting step forward in our journey towards becoming a fully circular and climate positive business by 2030.”

Unwanted “Billy” bookcases and other Ikea products such as sideboards, shelving, small tables, dining tables and desks can be returned after customers register and log the items. Customers “should then return them - fully assembled - to the returns desk, where they will be checked and the final value agreed”, the BBC reports. 

In return, customers will receive vouchers to spend in store, with the value calculated according to the condition of the items returned. Items deemed to be “as new”, with no scratches, will be bought for 50% of the original price, while “very good” items, with minor scratches, will command 40%, and “well used”, with several scratches, will get 30%.

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