Old is gold, as the saying goes. In Sweden, it really is. A new law proposed by the Social Democrat and Green parties would give tax breaks to people who get their existing products repaired instead of buying new ones. A second law proposed would add a chemical tax to white goods and other products that are harder to recycle.

The first legislation proposes to cut the 25 percent tax on repairs of bikes, clothes, and shoes by half, bringing it down to 12 percent. It also allows people to claim half of the labor cost of appliance repairs from their income tax, making it more affordable to repair refrigerators, washing machines, and other white goods.

“If we want to solve the problems of sustainability and the environment, we have to work on consumption,” explained Per Bolund, Sweden’s Finance and Consumption Minister to The Local. The legislation would be accompanied by a US$4 million publicity campaign encouraging people to repair damaged items.

While the first piece of legislation aims to make it easier to repair broken items, the second aims to make it harder to buy new ones. The proposed “chemical tax” law would affect items that are harder to recycle like computers, washing machines, and others. “If the appliance has harmful chemicals in the production process or incorporated in it there will be a levy,” explained Bolund in an interview with Apolatica.

“We don’t have any anticipation that [these] will make people avoid buying things overall, but 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. So it’s a lessened incentive to buy as cheap as possible and then scrap something,” explained Bolund.

The tax cuts for repairs would cost the Swedish economy around US$54 million annually. However, it would be more than paid for with the “chemical tax,” which is expected to generate approximately US$233 million annually. If approved, the laws will go into effect later this year.

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