Sweden is paying people to fix their belongings instead of throwing them away

To combat its ‘throwaway consumer culture’, Sweden has announced tax breaks on repairs to clothes, bicycles, fridges and washing machines. On bikes and clothes, VAT has been reduced from 25% to 12% and on white goods consumers can claim back income tax due on the person doing the work.

The incentives are intended to reduce the environmental impact of the things Swedes buy. The country has ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but has found that the impact of consumer choices is actually increasing.

The scheme is expected to cost the state some $54 million in lost taxes, which will be more than outweighed by income from a new tax on harmful chemicals in white goods. Moreover, Sweden’s economy is growing strongly and the government has an $800 million budget surplus.

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