After its original launch date was postponed due to the second national lockdown in November, IKEA has launched its Buy Back service in the UK.

The service encourages customers to sell back furniture that they no longer need in return for vouchers. The furniture will be resold by the retailer within its Circular Hubs (previously Bargain Corner), giving a second life to its products and helping to prevent useable materials from entering landfill.

Used products returned as good as new will be bought for 50% of the original price, while items with minor scratches will be bought for 40%. Furniture that is well used with several scratches will be bought for 30%.

Eligible products include dressers, office drawer cabinets, small structures with drawers, display storage and sideboards, bookcases and shelf units, small tables, multimedia furniture, cabinets, dining tables and desks, chairs and stools without upholstery, chests of drawers and children's products (excluding baby items).

Anyone wishing to sell back their IKEA furniture can visit IKEA's website and submit items for consideration by filling out an online offer request. The tool will automatically generate a preliminary offer and customers will then be invited to bring the fully assembled product and introductory offer to the Returns & Exchanges desk in their nearest store, where they will receive an IKEA voucher. The voucher will have no expiry date, encouraging customers to only purchase new items when they really need something.

Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer, IKEA UK & Ireland, says: “Households are connected to around 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, consuming around a third of the energy and 10% of the water used globally. Therefore, small actions taken within them can make a significant difference, and that's why IKEA is so committed to making sustainable living more affordable, attractive and accessible. As one of the biggest brands in the world, we recognise our unique opportunity to help lead that change.

“Through Buy Back we hope to make circular consumption mainstream – making it easier for customers to acquire, care for and pass on products in circular ways.

“As we move towards our goal of becoming fully circular and climate-positive by 2030, we will continue to take bold steps ensuring that, by then, all IKEA products will be made from renewable, recyclable and/or recycled materials, and they will be designed to be reused, refurbished, remanufactured or recycled, following circular design principles.”

In tandem with the launch, IKEA is introducing Pre-Loved Labels to its secondhand items, allowing customers to learn about an item's past before giving it a new home.

Greg Lucas, country sustainability manager, IKEA UK & Ireland, comments: "Our research shows that there's a huge demand to buy quality secondhand products. In fact, three in four would now consider buying pre-loved. For many, this comes down to affordability, but sustainability has a huge role to play in this decision too. Encouragingly, 32% people say that the reason they purchase secondhand is to extend the lifecycle of that item, with over a third (35%) agreeing that they like items with a history. We are trialling Pre-Loved Labels for that reason, so people can find out about their furniture's unique past before giving it a new home."

The Pre-Loved Labels service will initially be trialled across Glasgow, Greenwich, Tottenham and Warrington stores for a two-week period between 5-15th May.

IKEA has also launched a nationwide collaboration with online re-commerce platform Gumtree to advertise and promote its recovered products online. Shoppers can browse the available products by entering #CircularHub into Gumtree’s search tool. Once they have spotted an item of interest, they can reserve it with a click, and then collect it from the associated IKEA store.

Since its launch in October 2020, IKEA has already sold over 10,000 recovered items through the platform, serving 7000 customers.

As a business, IKEA has a target to cut emissions in line with keeping global warming below 1.5°C, using science-based targets without the use of carbon offsets.

Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, in its financial year 2020 Ingka Group produced +132% more renewable energy than it consumed in its global operations for the very first time. Sales of IKEA’s People and Planet Positive products were particularly strong, representing 30% of the total volume of products sold over the course of the year.

These achievements sit alongside multiple initiatives from the retailing group geared towards reducing carbon emissions and helping customers live more sustainably at an affordable price. Last year saw the launch of plant balls, a plant-based alternative to IKEA’s iconic meatball, which contains just 4% of the carbon footprint – while October 2021 will see the removal of all single-use alkaline batteries from sale in stores globally. In April, Ingka Group also announced an investment of €4b (in addition to the €2.5b invested to date) to support its transition towards using 100% renewable energy across its entire value chain.

Pictured: Customer Dele Anthony returned her HEMNES bookcase through the Buy Back service, with a personalised Pre-Loved Label detailing its story