Ikea Tests Furniture Refurbishment, Upcycling in the UK

Ikea upcycling
(Image: A rendering of the Ikea store in Greenwich, UK. Credit: Ikea)

Ikea opened a new store in the London borough Greenwich this month that the retailer calls their most sustainable. The store is part of Ikea’s broader effort to test reuse, recycling, and upcycling in the UK.

Plans for the store that were first announced in 2017 called for a 108,000-plus-square-foot (33,000-square-meter) space with greywater recycling, rainwater treatment, solar panels to earn a BREEAM Excellent Certification Rating.

The store, which opened on February 7, has a Learning Lab that the Evening Standard described as “an in-store creative hub where upcycling workshops and demonstrations take place for anyone keen to introduce refreshed interiors to their home using furniture they already have.”

Furniture refurbishment has become a focus for Ikea in the UK. The Guardian’s Sarah Butler recently reported that the retailer piloted a program for more than a year in Edinburgh where customers can bring in their used Ikea furniture in exchange for reward vouchers. That pilot will be extended to Glasgow this summer.

The retailer is building the foundations toward leasing and reuse in order to scale quickly, Hege Sæbjørnsen, sustainability manager for Ikea in the UK, told Butler. Last month a trial furniture leasing initiative was announced for Switzerland.

Besides experimenting with furniture reuse, recycling, and upcycling, Ikea is also launching a textile recycling program across the United Kingdom, according to the Guardian. An initial textile take-back pilot began in 2017 at the Cardiff store, encouraging customers to bring in unwanted fabrics for recycling back into the community.

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