The Swedish government is considering legislation that would give tax breaks to people who repair stuff instead of throwing it away.
According to The Guardian, the proposal—which is scheduled to be introduced in parliament today—reduces the VAT rate (a consumption tax) on the repair of shoes, clothes, and bikes from 25% to 12%. The government is also considering a measure that would partially defray the cost of repairing appliances, like refrigerators, washing machines, and ovens.
The proposal is part of an ongoing national effort to reduce carbon emissions and waste. Giving consumers more incentives to repair larger equipment is especially important to the fight against e-waste. According to the United Nations, the world produced an estimated 41.8 million metric tonnes of e-waste in 2012. Most of that weight is actually from plug-in appliances—like fridges, dryers, blenders, and toasters. Repairing those products helps keep them in use and out of landfills. Plus, higher repair rates would stimulate job growth in the repair sector. So, the proposal is potentially a win for the environment and a win for the economy.
“We believe that this could substantially lower the cost and so make it more rational economic behaviour to repair your goods,” Per Bolund, Sweden’s minister for financial markets and consumer affairs, told The Guardian. “I believe there is a shift in view in Sweden at the moment. There is an increased knowledge that we need to make our things last longer in order to reduce materials’ consumption.”
If approved, the proposal would go into effect next year.