Our world is being totally trashed, not out of necessity, out of convenience. Something has changed in recent decades, and companies deliberately no longer produce goods that will last as long as possible. Instead, they capitalize on the consumer’s willingness to toss something in the trash and replace it with something new. People mindlessly create consumer waste rather than go through the effort of having something fixed.
It’s called planned obsolescence, a strategy of some product manufacturers. The basic idea is to engineer a product to have a predictably short lifetime so that when it malfunctions or breaks, the company can profit by selling another product. The additional sales and profits make it possible to sell more products at a lower cost, thereby increasing the attractiveness in a replacement. This is especially true for technology products, and some companies are finally beginning to design products that can evolve as technology does.
This business model has led to the collapse of the repair industry which used to be a thriving source of skilled labor for many people while saving resources and reducing mountains of consumer waste.
Sweden’s Effort to Reduce Consumer Waste
Sweden is now poised to become the first country in the world to directly address this issue, and has recently proposed tax incentives for repairing and re-using many consumer goods.
The Swedish government is introducing tax breaks on repairs to everything from bicycles to washing machines so it will no longer make sense to throw out old or broken items and buy new ones.
Sweden’s ruling Social Democrat and Green party coalition is set to submit proposals to parliament on Tuesday to slash the VAT rate on repairs to bicycles, clothes and shoes from 25% to 12%.
It will also submit a proposal that would allow people to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs to appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.
The proposals will be presented in parliament as part of the government’s budget proposals and if voted through in December will become law from 1 January 2017. [Source]
The proposals will make it more affordable for people to repair items, thus positively impacting the repair industry and creating jobs. The end result would be a win for the economy and the environment.
“We believe that this could substantially lower the cost and so make it more rational economic behaviour to repair your goods.
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.” ~Per Bolund, Sweden’s minister for financial markets and consumer affairs and one of six Green party cabinet members
These measures signal the recognition of a serious global problem, meanwhile, the world’s oceans and landfills are filling up with trashed goods, and the world’s resources are being extracted to the phenomenal detriment of the environment. While this is positive news, you can’t help but wonder if government is the right organization to address personal behavior.
Waking Times originally created and published this article (Sweden to Incentivize Product Repairs in Effort to Reduce Consumer Waste). It is re-posted here with permission.