Sweden has launched a new plan to combat throwaway consumer culture and reduce emissions.
Anyone who opts to have things – clothes, bicycles, fridges, washing machines, etc. – fixed instead of throwing them away will be rewarded with generous tax breaks.
VAT (value-added tax) will be reduced from 25% to 12% on clothes, while people can claim back income tax due on the person doing repairs on white goods (i.e. major appliances and electronics).
“The tax break is actually quite substantial since most of the cost of repair is actually labour, so it can really make a quite big difference,” says deputy finance minister and Green party member Per Bolund.
In other words, the country is willing to miss out on $70 million in tax revenue in order to help save the environment.
But we guess you can do that when you have an $800 million budget surplus – something we’d know absolutely nothing about.
Income from a new tax on harmful chemicals is also expected to more than make up for the lost revenue.
Bolund believes the scheme won’t harm the economy as people move to buy less.
“Hopefully it will be easier for people to buy high-quality products because they know it’s affordable to have them fixed if something breaks,” he says. “So it’s a lessened incentive to buy as cheap as possible and then scrap something.”