Moving up in the world or at least moving homes, customers have for generations faced an awkward question: What do you do with old Ikea furniture, so carefully assembled but so ready to be replaced?
Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer, offered a solution this week. It announced that next month it will begin a global buyback program of unwanted Ikea furniture to encourage customers to take a stand against excessive consumption, the company said.
The program, called “Buy Back,” will begin in Britain on Nov. 24, just ahead of Black Friday, an Ikea spokeswoman said on Wednesday. The program will also run in 26 other countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. The initiative has no end date in Britain or Ireland.
“By making sustainable living more simple and accessible, Ikea hopes that the initiative will help its customers take a stand against excessive consumption this Black Friday and in the years to come,” the company said in a news release.
Noticeably absent from the list of participating countries was the United States. Ikea did not immediately say why the program would not be implemented there.
“It is a country decision, and Ikea Retail U.S. will not participate in the buyback program,” the spokeswoman said. “The U.S. is currently exploring ways to bring Buy Back to the country in the future.”
She added, “This year, they will use the traditional Black Friday to focus on other sustainability initiatives and to promote sustainable living among their customers.”
Customers selling back furniture will receive an Ikea refund card, with no expiration date, the news release said.
The condition of the item sold back to Ikea will determine the value.
Ikea furniture in “new” condition with no scratches could receive 50 percent of the original price, the release said. Furniture in “very good” condition with minor scratches may receive 40 percent of the original price and “well-used” items, with several scratches, could receive 30 percent of the original price. The items will be resold as secondhand in the “As-Is” section of stores.
Any item that can’t be resold will be recycled or donated to local community projects, the company said.
While the program has ignited interest among Ikea lovers, not all of the company’s furniture products will be eligible for it. Among the items the program will accept are dressers, bookcases and shelf units, small tables, cabinets, dining tables and desks, chairs and stools without upholstery, and chests of drawers.
“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,” said Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer for Ikea UK and Ireland.
Hege Saebjornsen, country sustainability manager for Ikea UK and Ireland, said “being circular” was a good business opportunity as well as a responsibility, adding that the climate crisis requires everyone to radically rethink their consumption habits.
The company, which was founded by the Swedish entrepreneur Ingvar Kamprad in 1943 and has expanded to locations in more than 40 countries, also plans to become “climate positive” by 2030, saying it will drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon in land, plants and products.
Ikea’s leadership has directly linked some of its stores’ challenges to climate change. In January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jesper Brodin, the chief executive of Ikea, said his company was already feeling its impact after severe flooding in the United States, where stores were temporarily closed, and in Australia, where fires had disrupted business.