Swedish Government Rewards Citizens Who Repair Instead of Throwing Away

Mathilde Nakken
November 20th 2016

For most Swedes today sustainability is a way of life. They eat, buy, work and travel with the environment in mind, from their shopping carts filled with fair trade products to the yearly carbon emissions reduced by 23% since 1990. In line with this conscious consumer mindset, the Swedish government proposed two economic changes; both ment to shift from a throwaway culture to an economy built on long-lasting and repairable goods.

The first plan is to lower the VAT, Value Added Tax, of reparation services. At the tailor, shoe maker and bike repair shop Swedes will pay 12% VAT instead of 25%. Secondly, they want to pay people to fix their belongings instead of throwing them away. When a home appliance is fixed, half of the reparation costs can be claimed back.

The main idea is to change the behavior of the Swedish shoppers: stimulate them to buy high quality and long-lasting goods instead of cheap disposable products and repair instead of replace. "A logic solution, that disappeared out of our everyday life and our habits" says Swedish Minister of finance and consumption, Per Bolund. "We believe that we need policies to change the economic rationale around consumption, to make it a habit to actually use your items longer and repair them instead. And we also know that repairs are more labour-intense than production, which has been largely automized, so expanding repairs could actually contribute to an expanding labour market and a decrease in unemployment".

Now that the Sweden is starting to darn socks again, it is actually going back to an old economic system, where repairing was cheaper then the purchasing of a new pair of socks. So, would you stop throwing your broken belongings away and get them fixed instead, if it was cheaper to do so?

Sources: World Economic Forum, NPR
Image: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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