February 23, 2021

Ikea pioneered cheap, disposable furniture. Now it’s discouraging it – Fast Company

Ikea pioneered cheap, disposable furniture. Now it's discouraging it - Fast Company

Ikea wants to make disassembly a consumer habit, and it’s releasing a series of instructions to help users do just that. Some of its most popular products, such as the Billy bookcase, now have instructions online for how to take the product apart, making it easier for the consumer to move it to their new digs, donate it, or resell it.

Ikea pioneered cheap, disposable furniture. Now it's discouraging it - Fast Company
[Image: Ikea]

Traditionally, Ikea’s products have been known more for their short lifespan than their longevity. But the push for disassembly is part of the company’s effort to become completely circular by 2030, meaning that all its products will be designed for reuse, repair, or recycling. As part of this effort, the company launched a furniture rental program in 2019 and a furniture buyback program in the fall of 2020.

Ikea pioneered cheap, disposable furniture. Now it's discouraging it - Fast Company
[Image: Ikea]

The step-by-step disassembly guides are currently available for six Ikea products: Billy, Brimnes, Lycksele, Malm, Pax, and Poäng. You can view and download the guides online for free. The page also has a link to general sustainability advice for extending the life of your furniture, such as giving it a fresh coat of paint or choosing modular furniture that you can add to you as you need.

[Image: Ikea]

Ultimately, the disassembly instructions are an effort to curb the death sentence of affordable, mass-market furniture: After a few years of use, that inexpensive Billy bookcase meets its untimely demise in a fast-furniture trash heap, a landfill.

In contrast, these disassembly instructions make it easy to put Ikea products back where they belong: in a flat pack, for someone else to assemble. Now that’s full circle.