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 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.
Alexander Starritt interviewed the man behind the scheme, deputy finance minister Per Bolund, a member of the Green party and a biologist by training. He spoke about nudging people towards better choices; creating jobs for skilled manual workers; and Sweden’s six-hour working day.