Innovation That Matters

Swedish coalition government plans to 'nudge' consumers into green behavior


In Sweden, the ruling coalition is proposing tax breaks on the cost of repairing.

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Over the past few years, we’ve looked at a couple of ideas in the realm of incentivized repair and recycling. Wasted, a reward scheme in the Netherlands, turns used plastic into versatile building blocks and offers tokens to participating residents. The London Store of Swedish brand, Nudie Jeans, encourages its customers to repair their items by giving them free access to repair equipment and advice. Now, the Swedish government is preparing to tackle the issue in a new way by ‘nudging’ consumers towards more sustainable consumption.

The Social Democrat and Green party coalition government in Sweden is proposing to introduce tax cuts of up to 25% on the cost of repairing a wide range of items from bikes to clothing. On white goods like refrigerators and washing machines, the plan allows individuals to claim half the cost of labour for repairs. According to Fastco, the cuts will cost the country an estimated USD 54 million per year. This cost will be offset by the introduction of a “chemical tax” which would put a levy on those resources used in the manufacture of new goods and computers which are hard to recycle. Sweden’s finance and consumption minister, Per Bolund, describes the logic behind the proposal, explaining: “If we want to solve the problems of sustainability and the environment we have to work on consumption”. If introduced, a public awareness campaign would accompany the policy designed to encourage Swedish citizens to choose repair over replacement of goods.

The idea is simple: halving the tax on repairs and increasing it on goods that can’t be easily recycled. What other disincentives can governments design to nudge people away from environmentally damaging behaviors?



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