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May 18, 2017, 06:21 PM

Government halves VAT on repair and reuse in Sweden

By Thornton Kay

ReTuna reuse shopping mall [photo ReTuna

ReTuna the future?
A small number of reclaimed flush doors
Clean area for Amo reclaimed blocks and pavers [photo Facebook

Sweden - A shopping centre has been opened in a redundant warehouse on the outskirts of the town of Eskilstuna to the west of Stockholm which comprises a dozen stores several of which sell secondhand products including reclaimed building materials and upcycled furniture. It also contains the municipal waste recycling facility where suitable goods can be removed from the waste stream, returned to the shops where they are sold for reuse.

The AMA Outlet, re EXERTION building materials store saves materials from structures demolished or renovated, including old doors, windows, sanitaryware, pine boards, white goods, tools, flooring, tiles, screws and nails. The shop is laid out like a DIY store making it easy to browse through - help is offered so staff can give customers their knowledge and advice. The small quantities of material on offer and clean environment possibly make the store seem less intimidating to buyers than an average reclamation yard.

The ReTuna Recycling Galleria, as the mall is known, also contains an organic restaurant, educational center, conference center, and an exhibition.

Centre manager Anna Bergström said, "The aim is for someone to leave furniture and clothing they want to get rid of, then they wander around the shops in the mall maybe find a jacket or photo frame, then eat an organic lunch in our restaurant and then shop for garden plants and a lamp for the lounge. When people leave they feel that they have done something good for the environment. The tenants are business-like and want to earn money as well as save the planet so the shopping mall is commercially-driven."

The whole project is financed with municipal funding and helped with the new Swedish tax breaks for repair and reuse. In January Sweden's Minister of Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs Per Bolund announced new tax-breaks to change the consumer mindset. In Sweden VAT is 25% but after 1st Jan the tax on labour and materials for repairs was halved.

"Which means making it affordable and economic to stop the buying and throwing away, instead repairing goods and using them for a longer time," says Bolund. He's spearheading the 50% tax cut for Swedes to repair items like clothes, shoes and bicycles.

The new Swedish law also applies to big ticket household appliances like fridges and washing machines. If Swedes repair those items, they can take a 50-percent tax deduction off the cost of the labor. In high-tax Sweden, that can amount to substantial savings.

"Most of the electronic goods that we use are imported," says Bolund. "Repairing your goods is quite labor intense as compared to production. So we believe if consumption behavior is altered, this can lead to a boost in the employment and the labor market."

Bolund adds that the tax cut for repairs is but one part of a larger strategy to promote sustainable consumption. He says the government's role is to move the needle - - so taking care of the planet becomes not just a moral decision, but an economically rational one too.

Perhaps UK SalvoNEWS readers could send this story to prospective MPs for the forthcoming election and ask if they would support such a move in the UK? It would help to level the playing field between new and reclaimed building materials.

UK prospective MP candidates
Sweden's repair tax breaks

Story Type:  News

ID: 100330

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