IKEA rental furniture to be offered as part of wider sustainable push
IKEA renting furniture greenwich news

IKEA to begin renting furniture as part of wider sustainable push

IKEA has announced plans to start renting its furniture, as part of a move towards a circular economy that includes refurbishing and re-selling products.

The trial furniture-rental scheme, due to begin in Switzerland imminently, will initially be limited to office furniture such as desks and chairs.

"We see big potential in inspiring and enabling consumers to play an active role in making the circular economy a reality, and we can facilitate that by developing new business models in relation to how they acquire, care for and pass on products," explained an IKEA spokesperson.

"In certain markets, such as Switzerland, we're exploring and testing potential solutions, designing relevant offers and then testing them with customers. However nothing is up and running at the moment," they told Dezeen.

IKEA may rent kitchens in the future

Although the trial will only include office furniture at this point, IKEA hasn't ruled out leasing rather than selling kitchens and other products in future.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Inter IKEA chief executive Torbjorn Loof said: "You could say leasing is another way of financing a kitchen."

"When this circular model is up and running, we have a much bigger interest in not just selling a product but seeing what happens with it and that the consumer takes care of it."

IKEA greenwich news
IKEA recently opened its most sustainable store in London's Greenwich

When questioned by Dezeen, IKEA wouldn't say whether the trial rental scheme was the first move towards a subscription business model of leasing furniture.

"We're always exploring new areas and we're in a test and trial period," the company said. "As for now, were exploring the opportunities to pilot projects connected to leasing, however for now we're focusing on gathering insights from customers."

Furniture exchange underway in Edinburgh store

The leasing plan is part of IKEA's increasing focus on championing a circular economy and eliminating waste by selling products that can be repaired, recycled or resold.

The company is already running a furniture exchange program in its Edinburgh store, and will begin a trial of the scheme in Glasgow before the end of June 2019.

Customers are encouraged to bring their used IKEA furniture back to the store to be re-homed, either by selling it on in the bargain corner in store, or by giving it to a charity.

In return, customers receive a monetary voucher based on a percentage of the original value of the item, depending on an evaluation of its current condition.

Greenwich store is IKEA's most sustainable

The Swedish homeware giant has also this month opened its most sustainable UK store, in Greenwich, London. The build includes solar panels, rainwater-harvesting facilities, geothermal heating and 100 per cent LED lighting. The store also has a community garden and a Learning Lab.

The lab is "a dedicated space for customers, partners and the local community to explore prolonging the life of products, up-cycling, reducing waste and growing their own food".

IKEA greenwich news
IKEA Greenwich has a Learning Lab where customers are taught to upcycle and repair products

IKEA Greenwich is aiming to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy and is working towards an outstanding BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) accreditation.

"Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at IKEA and moving to a circular economy is essential if we are to continue to meet people's needs and dreams while staying within the limits of the planet," said IKEA UK & Ireland sustainability manager Hege Sæbjørnsen.

"IKEA Greenwich is a leading example of circular retail in London and reflects our commitment to make sustainable lifestyles easy and affordable, while also supporting customers to re-use, recycle or refresh their products."

Products repaired rather than thrown away

Another new initiative launched by the brand is to introduce recovery teams in every store, who repair and re-pack products that have been damaged in transit so that they can be sold rather than going to waste.

IKEA also aims to encourage customers to repair products rather than throwing them away when they break. To achieve this they have introduced spare parts to their range.

"In 2018, we handled over one million orders of spare parts to help repair products for a longer life," said the brand.

Textile recycling scheme rolled out across the UK

IKEA began offering textile recycling in its Cardiff store two years ago. Milton Keynes and Greenwich followed and the scheme will be rolled out to all UK stores in the next few months.

Customers can bring in their old or unwanted textiles such as clothing and duvets, whether purchased at IKEA or not, for recycling.

IKEA greenwich news
The store also has a community garden on the roof

As with the furniture exchange, textiles are then re-used or recycled via a local charity partner. In Cardiff, the local charity partner is the YMCA and so far they have collected more than two tonnes of textiles since the scheme began, IKEA told Dezeen.

"The circular economy can only be achieved through collaboration. In addition to working with customers to find appealing and accessible solutions that enable them to live more sustainably, we are also partnering with stakeholders to work together and share experiences," said the brand.

Last year, IKEA revealed plans to remove all single-use plastics from its product range by 2020. It has also announced a collaboration with British designer Tom Dixon to launch an urban farming project that encourages city-dwellers to grow food locally.

Additional reporting is by Gunseli Yalcinkaya.