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IKEA will buy back used furniture in stand against 'excessive consumption'

Swedish furniture giant to launch resale scheme on Black Friday in late November.

IKEA refurbishment

IKEA customers soon will be able to sell their flat-pack furniture back to the company, after the retail giant announced a new buy-back scheme that will see it purchase old and unwanted IKEA items and resell them to shoppers at discounted rates.

The Swedish furniture giant said it will launch the sustainability initiative on Black Friday — the discount day promoted annually by retail companies in late November — in a bid to help customers "take a stand against excessive consumption." The campaign is slated to run in 27 countries through Dec. 3, according to an IKEA press release about the intiative.

Customers that sell dressers, chairs, cabinets or bookshelves back to IKEA will receive a voucher that can be redeemed against fresh items.

Well-used items with several scratches will be eligible for a voucher worth 30 percent of their original value, while unblemished items can be swapped for 50 percent of their original value, Ikea said.

The discount card will not have an expiry date, in a bid to encourage customers to buy items only when necessary, according to the company.

"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," said Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer at IKEA UK and Ireland. "It is an exciting step forward in our journey towards becoming a fully circular and climate positive business by 2030."

A range of products are expected to be included in the scheme, including chairs and stools without upholstery, chests of drawers, small tables, bookcases and shelf units, and display storage and cabinets, the company said. The items eventually will be stocked in dedicated second-hand sections of IKEA stores, with anything unable to be resold recycled, it added.

Hege Saebjornsen, country sustainability manager at IKEA UK and Ireland, emphasized the firm had a responsibility to make its business model more circular and encourage a shift in consumption behavior.

"The IKEA vision has always been to create a better everyday life for the many people, which right now means making sustainable living easy and affordable for everyone," she said. "Being circular is a good business opportunity as well as a responsibility, and the climate crisis requires us all to radically rethink our consumption habits."

IKEA's new initiative is the latest of a number of moves from retailers to appeal to an increasingly sustainability-focused clientele. In late August, luxury department store Selfridges announced that it was launching a raft of repair, resale and rental initiatives as part of plans to "change the way people shop."

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