Business: IKEA Adopts ‘Circular Thinking’ Model To Encourage Recycling Culture

IKEA store
Kadir Muhaideen, 67, arranges sofas at Ikea in Singapore December 14, 2018. Picture taken December 14, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

In a bid to pivot towards environmentally-friendly processes, IKEA has announced plans to try selling refurbished furniture in the British market. The company is reportedly planning to expand its trials to Glasgow by mid-2018.

The Guardian reported that aside from selling old but patched-up furniture, IKEA will also launch a textile recycling scheme that will further support the company's environmentally-inclined goals.

For over a year now, Edinburgh customers have been exchanging used furniture with vouchers from IKEA. The same scheme will be introduced to customers in Glasgow by June. The Swedish firm is also considering expansions in other regions but no specific locations have been cited yet.

U.K. IKEA's sustainability manager, Hege Sæbjørnsen said of the plans, "We are almost in startup mode, testing business models. He went on to explain that the two schemes are directed towards greener processes for all IKEA operations.

In Switzerland, the furniture giant has already started leasing products to customers as part of its contributions to the global circular model advocacy. It has yet to be announced if the company has plans of introducing the new leasing model to British consumers.

IKEA has been stepping up its "circular thinking" programs over the past couple of years. It recently opened the greenest branch yet in the southern borough of Greenwich, London. The store features 100 percent renewable energy through solar panels installed on the roof. It also has workshop spaces for locals to take up classes in patching-up furniture.

IKEA's textile recycling scheme kicked off two years ago in Cardiff. Since then, customers were encouraged to bring curtains, old clothes, and other old fabrics that could be cleaned and repaired for recycling.

Meanwhile, the Swedish furniture provider is scheduled to present at E-Pack Europe 2019, one of the most prominent e-commerce summits in the world. This year's conference will run from March 25-27 in Berlin.

In an interview with the Packaging World Magazine, Global Head of Sustainable Mobility, Angela Hultberg and Resource and Waste Manager, Per Stoltz, explained how IKEA is working to overcome challenges in the e-commerce realm.

When asked about circular models that IKEA is looking to introduce in line with its e-commerce services, Stoltz and Hultberg confirmed that the company is currently working on a reusable packaging idea. "We will present more about this at the event," they said.

Financial Times associate editor and chief business commentator, John Gapper said in his opinion column this week that other companies can learn from IKEA's circular aspirations. While recycling goods comes with challenges along the way, Gapper noted that it has a lot of benefits both to the business and to society.

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