Why Sweden is Discarding ‘Throwaway Culture’ in Favour of Fixing

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Posted by Keith Hirst on 21 December 2016

Would you choose repairs over replacement if they were cheaper? The Swedish government thinks that its citizens would do just that, which is why they are proposing a new tax break system to combat consumer throwaway culture. Sweden are aiming to incentivise the option of repairing household goods, thus limiting waste and promoting a culture of reuse. Considering the challenges we face in modern times, schemes such as these are incredibly valuable at both a local and global level. But what are Sweden’s exact plans, and why is Sweden discarding ‘throwaway culture’ in favour of fixing?

The problem with waste

With the planet becoming increasingly materialistic, discarding waste instead of salvaging it has become the norm. And with the cost of repairing goods sometimes almost as expensive as buying a new item, most people find it easier to simply throw away a faulty item. This only acts to contribute to the waste in our landfill sites and uses up resources to manufacture and ship over new products for purchase. Whilst it’s true that many skip hire companies now endeavour to recycle most of the waste they collect, more can still be done by governments. Sweden have recognised this need and are now proposing a plan to revolutionise and promote Swedish sustainable consumption.

What is Sweden’s plan?

It was announced in September 2016 that the Swedish government are creating plans to slash taxes on goods repairs from 25% down to 12%, in addition to allowing people to claim back income tax on labour for the repair of ‘white goods’ e.g. washing machines and refrigerators. If the plans are successful, they could become law by January 2017. The aim of the plans is to encourage people to be less wasteful in their daily lives, and to make repair seem like a more attractive option than replacement.

Pushing this scheme forward is Deputy Finance Minister, Per Bolund, who states that “the idea is to help the private and municipal sectors use nudges to make it easier for consumers to act responsibly and reduce their environmental impact with everyday choices.”

What are the benefits of Sweden’s plan?

  • A key benefit of the scheme will be to discourage the purchase of brand new items e.g. bikes, household appliances, clothes. Instead people will be able to give their possessions a second chance at life and at a reasonable cost.
  • This Swedish government hope that this scheme will reduce the need for shipping of items from abroad, thus reducing the carbon emissions involved in this process.
  • Another advantage will be the boosting of the home repairs industry. The government hopes that, by increasing demand for repairs, new job opportunities can be created for immigrants and for those with few formal qualifications.

The future of waste

The future of waste is uncertain, and depends entirely on world leaders to ignite change. With the earth’s population increasing, and a rise in reliance on material goods, the world will need to focus more on reuse and recycling if we are to take the pressure off the planet’s resources.

Sweden is one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world, and are no stranger to implementing effective policies to fight back against climate change and other environmental issues. As a nation, they already generate half of their electricity from renewable sources, and hope to continue on this green-thinking track. Sweden are certainly setting an example to the world, and it’s one that we should all endeavour to follow.


With landfill as a last resort for us, here at Thompson Fuels & Skip Hire we can take the environmental risk out of disposing of your household waste. Whether you’re moving homes, or simply redecorating, our specialists aim to recycle, reuse and extract useful energy from your waste. We offer our services to the whole of the Doncaster area, and work alongside the Environment Agency to handle hazardous wastes responsibly. For more information about our services, simply get in contact today.

Interview with Per Bolund: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/sweden-is-tackling-its-throwaway-culture-with-tax-breaks-on-repairs-will-it-work/

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