It's difficult to imagine just how many millions of tons of furniture are thrown away each year, never to be used again.
Well, Ikea wants to do something about it.
The retailer, which was founded in Sweden and happens to be the world's largest purveyor of furniture, has announced a new pilot program: One of its stores will now buy back your old, unwanted furniture.
For now, the service is only available at a single Ikea store, located in Sydney.
But how does it work?
- Candidates must fill out an online submission form, which should then be sent via email along with five photos of the unwanted furniture.
- An Ikea employee then evaluates the items, issuing a response to the customer within 24 hours as to whether the furniture is eligible for the takeback service.
- If approved, the owner must deliver the furniture to Ikea within 14 days.
- If the furniture is deemed to match the pictures submitted through email, the customer will receive an Ikea voucher worth up to 50 percent of the original value of the furniture.
Ikea asks that the furniture be delivered fully assembled. In fact, the company has even partnered with car-sharing company GoGet to provide free van rentals (for up to two hours) to help ease the task of getting the old furniture into the store in one piece.
But lest you believe Ikea's motives are completely pure, there's something you should know:
This move actually makes brilliant business sense.
For one thing, customers are receiving Ikea vouchers for their used furniture. So, the value of the returned furniture basically amounts to a discount on ... more Ikea merchandise. This encourages customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
Moreover, Ikea may manage to resell the used furniture for the amount paid to buy it back, or close to it. Or the company may be able to recoup some of that repurchase cost by recycling materials--all while reducing environmental impact.
"For Ikea, this is clearly about business; we are in the business of selling furniture," stated Kate Ringvall, sustainability manager at Ikea Australia (as reported by Gizmodo AU). "Our core business isn't really about sustainability or talking about sustainability, but the way that we approach it is ... through how we produce our products, how we move those products, how we talk to our customers about the amazing products we do sell and how they can help their life."