Make do and mend? Sweden wants to give you money back for fixing things

Story highlights

  • Sweden plans to cut value added tax on repairs from 25% to 12%
  • Measures could provide labor opportunities for refugees, says minister

(CNN)What's cheaper: repairing your shoes or buying new ones?

With the cost of hand labor versus mass-produced fashion, often it's the latter.
    Sweden is hoping to change this with plans to grant tax breaks for repairs to footwear, clothes, leather goods, household textiles and bicycles -- giving people a financial incentive to make do and mend.
    The value added tax (VAT) on getting these items fixed will be slashed from 25% to 12%, according to the plan, which was presented Tuesday to the Parliament in the government's new budget.

    Economic incentive

    A second proposal will allow Swedes to claim back from their income tax up to half of the labor costs of fixing home appliances -- such as washing machines, fridges and stoves.
    It won't come cheap, with the government estimating the plans will cost them $86.4 million (SEK 740m) in tax revenue.
    The minister for financial markets and consumer affairs, Per Bolund, says the measures meet a growing desire in Swedish society to consume more sustainably, as well as a broader government strategy to reduce the carbon emissions from consumerism.
    "It's obvious that consumers want to make a difference," he told CNN. "Sales of organic food increase around 40% each year, and also of fair trade products. What they say to us is that they find it difficult -- they'd like to have an economic incentive."

    Cost of consumption

    Sweden is considered a world leader in tackling climate change, with renewable energy policies that have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 23% since 1990.
    However, when taking into account the consumption of imported goods, the country's overall carbon footprint is 17% bigger than the government projects, according to the charity WWF.
    It's a problem that Bolund acknowledges. In 2015, the government recovered more than