Pricewatch: Sell your furniture back to Ikea

Sustainability is key to buyers and sellers and Swedish giant wants to cut landfill

Ikea’s clever buyback service in  Ireland is part of its “commitment to becoming fully circular and climate positive by 2030”.

Ikea’s clever buyback service in Ireland is part of its “commitment to becoming fully circular and climate positive by 2030”.

 

Anyone who has ever bought a stick of furniture from Ikea knows that it is not really designed to be passed down through the ages. Pricewatch is a big fan of the brand – as our house will testify – but it is first and foremost designed to address a pressing need in a cheap and efficient (if sometimes heartbreakingly frustrating) fashion.

To its credit, Ikea has long recognised that it is part of a global waste problem and it understands that the stuff we have bought from it over the decades has contributed to the horrendous environmental crisis the world is facing.

It has also taken steps to fix that problem and last week it officially launched a clever buyback service in Ireland as part of its “commitment to becoming fully circular and climate positive by 2030”.

The service encourages customers to sell back Ikea furniture that they no longer need and, in return, receive a voucher to spend at the store for use when they need something. The furniture will be resold within Ikea Circular Hubs – formerly known as Bargain Corner – helping to prevent perfectly useable materials from entering landfill.

Used products returned as good as new with no scratches will be bought for 50 per cent of the original price, while items with minor scratches will be bought for 40 per cent. Furniture that is well-used with several scratches will be bought for 30 per cent. If your Billy Bookcase is falling to bits it might not be up to, um, scratch.

Households are connected to around 60 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions

Rather than jamming that old Malme you no longer want into the car and schlepping out to Ballymun to haggle with Ikea, you can instead submit items for consideration by filling out an online offer request. The tool will automatically generate a preliminary offer and at that point you jam the unflatpacked product into your car and, with provisional quote, go to the Returns & Exchanges desk at the Ballymun store. Once the product is accepted, you get an Ikea refund card.

Small actions

Peter Jelkeby is Ikea’s Irish store manager and its chief sustainability officer. “Households are connected to around 60 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, consuming around a third of the energy and 10 per cent of the water used globally,” he said. “Therefore, small actions taken within them can make a significant difference, and why Ikea is so committed to making sustainable living more affordable, attractive and accessible. As one of the biggest brands in the world, we recognise our unique opportunity to help lead that change.”

The Ikea story was just one of many sustainability stories that landed in the Pricewatch inbox last week. There was another about the Sandyford Business District which launched a Bleeper Bike-backed cargo bike rental scheme to allow businesses in the area lessen their carbon footprint when making deliveries.

We heard from the European Milk Forum which published a study suggesting that six in 10 Irish consumers want to follow a more sustainable diet while over half say that clearer sustainability labelling and increased accessibility to sustainable products would encourage them to do so.

There was also a report from Bord Bia which found that sustainable packaging and plastics were identified as a key issue for both commercial food buyers and consumers. Bord Bia said that globally about three in 10 consumers surveyed said “sustainable packaging influences choice when doing grocery shopping” while its own Readiness Radar 2021 report found that packaging ranked as the number one sustainability priority for the 111 Irish food and drink businesses surveyed.

And we heard from a new skincare product launching in Ireland this week with a sharp focus on sustainability. Skin Sapiens is initially rolling out three products for babies and young children and everything comes packaged in either recycled or recyclable materials. It promises “total disclosure” when listing ingredients, is “certified natural, vegan and cruelty-free”, as well as being members of “1 per cent for the Planet” and donates that percentage of every sale to charities fighting climate change.

Then there was the EY Future Consumer Index. Almost since the start of the Covid crisis, EY have been quizzing consumers on how their world and their world view has changed. The last raft of research has been published and it too points to the increasing importance of sustainability to consumers.

Health crisis

Globally, levels of concern among consumers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been moderating slightly, according to the seventh edition of the index although 39 per cent of the 14,047 consumers surveyed believe the health crisis will continue to impact their lives for at least another 12 months, down from 40 per cent last February.

A key emerging trend is the prioritisation of sustainability, which comes at a time when consumers are also re-evaluating other areas of their lives, including affordability.

The research suggests that 64 per cent of consumers plan to pay more attention to the environmental impact of what they consume although 60 per cent intend to focus more on value for money. “This creates a tension over who should pay for sustainability,” the report says.

Overall, 64 per cent of consumers continue to spend more time at home than before the pandemic and homes remain the hub from which people work, order deliveries, exercise and stay entertained.

According to EY that has given people “a huge opportunity for them to pivot to sustainable choices that positively impact the environment and society”. It shows that 31 per cent of people say they now spend more on products that are sustainable and better for the environment while 64 per cent are prepared to behave differently if it benefits society.

Encouraging consumers to play their part in ensuring a sustainable recovery for Ireland will be essential

However, 78 per cent of consumers are concerned about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their finances and 53 per cent say price is a more important purchase consideration than before the pandemic, threatening the longevity of positive attitudes toward sustainable behaviours.

Rather than make significant financial commitments toward helping achieve bigger societal goals around sustainability, many consumers are pursuing low-impact, no-cost actions that save them money.

Buying behaviours

All told, 56 per cent of people now say they mainly adopt sustainable behaviours if it saves them money, notably in relation to key consumer household activities, including conserving energy use, recycling or reusing packaging, and bringing reusable shopping bags to the store.

“Our research shows that there has been a perceptible shift in consumers wanting to change their buying behaviours to be more ‘sustainable’, however they are also aware of the sometimes greater cost of buying the product or service that is the better option for the environment,” says Yvonne Kiely, head of EY-Seren in Ireland.

“We know that Irish saving accounts have accumulated around €12 billion during the pandemic, so encouraging consumers to play their part in ensuring a sustainable recovery for Ireland will be essential and companies have an important role in guiding consumers so the gap we’re seeing between good intention and consumer action can be closed.”

The EY Future Consumer Index also finds there is a sustainability education gap among consumers with 61 per cent saying they need more information to make better choices when shopping.

“This reveals an increased reliance and need for transparency from consumer products companies and retailers to help lead and guide consumers in making sustainable choices,” the report says.

“It’s really encouraging that consumer behaviours have now turned a corner and the intent is there to buy ‘green’, however in order to effect real change, businesses need to truly embrace sustainability. That means making sure their supply chains and processes are as sustainable as possible and that this is made clear to the consumer so they can make an informed choice, as well as ensuring products and services offered are as cost-competitive as possible – challenging the view that items that are sustainable will always have a premium price tag.”

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