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IKEA's New Furniture Buy-Back Scheme, Unpacked

While taking his kids to school a few years ago, David Hawthorn walked past a large heap of discarded home furnishings piled up on the roadside.

As IKEA Australia's Sales Manager, Hawthorn's children pointed out that most of the furniture was from the Swedish company he worked for. And this gave him an idea.

"We didn't have a way of upcycling that furniture and I thought existing furniture really is the raw materials for the future," Hawthorn told 10 daily.

"I was thinking about these resources and my kids and what they would have in the future."

IKEA is now encouraging customers to upcycle their old furniture. Image: Supplied.

After consulting with teams of people at work, local councils, businesses and customers, and trialing the idea at IKEA Tempe in Sydney's Inner West, Hawthorn's idea morphed into the IKEA 'buy-back service'.

Under the new, first-of-its-kind service, which was launched nationally on Monday, customers receive a gift voucher when they return their pre-loved IKEA furniture to a store.

Customers can go online at the IKEA website or download the app and search the item they wish to return. The online catalog includes every item sold at IKEA in the past 10 years, totaling a whopping 10,000 products.

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The online catalog includes every item sold at IKEA in the past 10 years. Image: Getty Images.

Shoppers then have to indicate the condition of the item -- either 'as new', 'very good' or 'well used'.

The website or app then generates an estimate of possible voucher value along with a barcode. The next step is to take the furniture and the barcode to an IKEA store, where customers can receive their voucher.

The voucher can be used to purchase anything (yes, including a plate of meatballs) and can be redeemed at any of the 10 IKEA stores around the country.

An example of an IKEA buy back furniture voucher. Image: IKEA website.

The second-hand furniture will then be available for purchase for other customers.

The move is part of IKEA's commitment to be a completely circular business by 2030. Hawthorn said the buy-back scheme has already started to be adopted internationally as part of the business's commitment to sustainability.

"We want as much back as we can so it takes away from landfill. We want to be as fair and as generous to all of our customers around the globe," Hawthorn said.

You can use the voucher to buy anything in store... including the famous meatballs. Image: Getty Images.

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"Australians want to do the right thing but you have to make it simple ... because right now the curb is the easier option."

The new buy-back service for furniture joins other IKEA services, including the take-back of mattresses, batteries and light bulbs across stores.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au