Popular Swedish furniture firm, Ikea, has announced their decision to start selling spare parts for their furniture. They currently provide free replacement nuts and bolts, but wish to expand this to encompass larger parts of furniture, such as sofa legs and arm rests. 

Throwaway Culture

Ikea’s decision represents a push back against the popular “throwaway culture;” the cycle modern society has fallen into of throwing away broken products and replacing them with cheap alternatives. Due to their affordable products, Ikea is often seen as central in this culture, their easy to put up flat pack furniture viewed as equally easy to replace.  Improving the "repairability" of products has been a topic of discussion over the past few years. UK opposition parties, for example, have recently pushed for government recognition of the growth of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party pushed for the government to create a scheme for electronic companies to print the repairability of their products on the packaging, and provide instructions and spare parts encase of breakage.

Ikea Goes Green

This is not the first of Ikea’s initiatives to improve their green reputation. In 2019, Ikea launched their second-hand furniture initiative, buying back various old ikea items with a voucher worth 50% of the original price. The initiative focused on non-upholstered furniture, such as chairs, desks, bookcases, and tables.  Ikea aims to be a fully circular business by 2030, reusing or recycling all of their materials and products. For the past year, Ikea have also sourced 98% of their wood from recycling traders or responsibly-managed forests.  It could be argued that Ikea’s latest scheme should be to make products that last longer. Lena Pripp-Kovac, Chief sustainability officer at Inter Ikea, however, told the Financial Times that providing replacements seemed a better option. Keeping the furniture cheap ensured that it remained ‘accessible’ to Ikea’s customer base, and Pripp-Kovac explained that improving quality would be unlikely to improve sales. Furthermore, the practice of selling replacements could help push many out of the “throwaway” habit, teaching more of the population to fix broken items.