The new leasing plan forms part of IKEA’s growing focus on a circular economy and aiming to eliminate waste by selling products that can instead be repaired, recycled or resold. A furniture exchange program is already running in its Edinburgh store, with a trial scheme set to begin in Glasgow by end of June 2019.

Customers will be encouraged to bring their used IKEA furniture to the store so that it can be rehomed, either through bargain counter selling or by donation to charity. Customers will receive a monetary voucher based on a percentage of the original price in return, depending on the condition of the product.

Focusing on a sustainable future through renting

An IKEA spokesperson said, “We see big potential in inspiring and enabling consumers to play an active role in making the circular economy a reality, and we can facilitate that by developing new business models in relation to how they acquire, care for and pass on products.”

“In certain markets, such as Switzerland, we’re exploring and testing potential solutions, designing relevant offers and then testing them with customers. However nothing is up and running at the moment.”

Inter IKEA chief executive Torbjorn Loof said: “You could say leasing is another way of financing a kitchen.”

“When this circular model is up and running, we have a much bigger interest in not just selling a product but seeing what happens with it and that the consumer takes care of it.” 

IKEA’s most sustainable store is in Greenwich, UK

This month IKEA also opened its most sustainable UK store in Greenwich, London. The building design includes solar panels, rainwater-harvesting capabilities, geothermal heating and 100% LED lighting. The store also has a Learning Lab and a community garden.

The lab presents “a dedicated space for customers, partners and the local community to explore prolonging the life of products, up-cycling, reducing waste and growing their own food.”

The Greenwich store aims to achieve 100% renewable energy and its working towards an outstanding BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) accreditation.

IKEA UK & Ireland sustainability manager Hege Sæbjørnsen said, “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at IKEA and moving to a circular economy is essential if we are to continue to meet people’s needs and dreams while staying within the limits of the planet.”

“IKEA Greenwich is a leading example of circular retail in London and reflects our commitment to make sustainable lifestyles easy and affordable, while also supporting customers to re-use, recycle or refresh their products.”

Repair before throwing away

A further new IKEA initiative is to place recovery teams into every store. These teams will be responsible for repairing and re-packing products that have been damaged in transit, allowing them to be sold rather than going to waste.

IKEA is also aiming to encourage customers to repair their products before throwing broken items away. To enable this, they have introduced spare parts to their range, handling over one million orders of spare parts in 2019 alone.

Textile recycling for the UK

Two years ago, IKEA began offering textile recycling in its Cardiff store, with Milton Keynes and Greenwich following. In the next few months, this will be rolled out to all UK stores.

Customers will be able to bring old and unwanted textiles, whether IKEA-branded or not, for recycling. Similar to the furniture, textiles will then be re-used or recycled via a local charity partner. The Cardiff venture has so far seen two tons of textiles collected for their local charity partner, the YMCA.

“The circular economy can only be achieved through collaboration. In addition to working with customers to find appealing and accessible solutions that enable them to live more sustainably, we are also partnering with stakeholders to work together and share experiences,” said the brand.