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You could soon be able to rent furniture from IKEA

The Swedish furniture store is hoping to reduce waste

Chloe Best

If you're guilty of buying cheap furniture, only to throw it out when you move house or redecorate, a new scheme from IKEA could put an end to that behaviour. The Swedish furniture giant, which counts the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge among its fans, is trialling a furniture rental programme and buyback scheme as part of its sustainability initiative.

IKEA chief executive Jesper Brodin previewed the plan at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, where he accepted the circular economy award, which the company won for its work towards using sustainable resources. In his acceptance speech, Jesper said that the company has been testing out the schemes in a bid to reduce furniture waste.

IKEA-bedroom

IKEA is trialling a furniture rental scheme

"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," he said, adding that interest in the scheme varies by region. "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."

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The retailer is currently testing the buy-back programme in Japan, where customers can sell back sofas for recycling. It has also tested the programme in selected countries, such as Finland, for the past two years. IKEA Family members in Finland receive a gift card for returning furniture, which the retailer then donates to local charities.

IKEA-living-room

The Swedish furniture retailer is hoping to cut down on waste

IKEA is striving to fight waste by designing products that can be "repurposed, repaired, reused, resold or recycled in any other way", a recent statement from the company said. It is an important initiative for the company to get involved in, as furniture is the least-recycled item in a household, with an estimated 9.8 million tons of furniture thrown out in 2009, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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