Raise your hand if you’ve bought a cheap piece of furniture from IKEA, then thrown it out during a move without a second thought.
At the World Economic Forum this month in Switzerland, the furniture giant previewed a plan that could put an end to that bad behavior.
IKEA chief executive Jesper Brodin was there to accept the , which the company won for its work toward sustainable resource usage. Brodin said in his speech that the company is testing out furniture buyback and rental programs to reduce furniture waste, partly through economic incentives.
“You build in a consciousness with consumers that they don’t have to own it, but own this collectively in the world and recycle it,” Brodin said, according to .
Interest in the program varies by the region, Brodin said. “In London, for example, there are a lot of people who commute and they are not interested in building a second home, so rental there is more interesting.” IKEA is testing the buy-back program In Japan, where customers can sell back sofas for recycling.
Furniture is the least-recycled item in a household, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that we threw out a whopping . Given that IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer, it's certainly responsible for a rather large slice of that shame cake.
The company has tested take-back programs in select markets, such as Finland, for about two years. program members in Finland receive a gift card for returning furniture, which IKEA then donates to local charities. In the United States last Earth Day, customers for $20 off a $150 IKEA purchase.
IKEA is working to fight waste and become a circular business by designing products “so they can be repurposed, repaired, reused, resold or recycled in any other way,” said Peter van der Poel, IKEA’s managing director of range and supply .