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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

IKEA moves towards a circular economy

  • Apr 5, 2019
IKEA moves towards a circular economy

Photo Credit: IKEA Canada

On February 21st, Jury Gualandris, Assistant Professor of Operations Management and Sustainability, met with IKEA Canada to explore the company’s global strategy and operations to become fully circular by 2030. During the session, representatives from IKEA Canada shared lessons from their circular economy journey and discussed current initiatives like the Sell-Back Service that are helping to make the circular economy a reality. Joining Gualandris at this event was Rob Klassen, Professor of Operations Management & Sustainability.

The event was organized by the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition, a non-profit that promotes Canada’s role as a frontrunner in adopting sustainable solutions for a circular economy. The coalition is made up of diverse leaders from the corporate, non-profit, academic, and government sectors.

The Sell-Back Service initiative promises to help IKEA move from mass customization to mass circularity by up-cycling used but fully functional products and components, while recycling the rest. In just six months since the original launch in November 2018, over 10,000 submissions have been up-cycled, and then re-sold. Key enablers for success seem to be IKEA’s famous modular design capabilities and a surprisingly high customer willingness to both return old products and to purchase used products that are displayed “as-is” or recovered by IKEA’s design specialists.

Jury’s research is highly relevant to the strategic and operational business transformations that IKEA is currently facing. In his work, he explores the institutional, operational, and economic challenges associated with the development and capable functioning of circular supply chains, systems consisting of multiple companies that collectively prioritize the reduction, reuse and recycling of products and materials in order to minimize the proportion of waste that goes to landfills.

Learn more about Jury’s research.