Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

Make do and svend

04 October 2016

Use once and throw away is not the most sustainable model for a consumer society, and we’re doing it more and more. From coffee cups that aren’t biodegradable, to printers that are cheaper to replace than to fix. We could all be Bjorn again if we adopted a different model of living.

There’s plenty to admire about the Scandinavians. They gave us Abba and Lordi, and we said thank you for the music. They even managed to flat pack bread and call it Rivita, and we said thank you - but we’ll stick to Mothers Pride pan loafs, if it’s all the same to you.

The thing about Scandinavians is that they don’t do waste. The average Danish household recycles anything organic into food for the forest or the livestock. The Swedes glue together wood shavings and call it furniture, while the Norwegians just look on in mild aloofness, and count their sovereign wealth fund.

Now this is all well and good, especially in the era of escalating waste disposal costs and landfill tax - two things we at Springfords are happy to advise on by the way - but what if there was less of a stick and more of a carrot to encourage that sort of benevolent behaviour? Once again, those lovers of pickled herring and huskies are way ahead of us.

As recently reported in the UK media (where newspapers are made from recycled IKEA flat pack boxes) the Swedish government is about to offer tax breaks to encourage a culture of repair rather than replace.

Their proposal is to cut VAT in half on repairs to household goods such as bicycles, clothes and shoes, and presumably Volvos if they ever need a repair for any of their tank-like main parts.

This rather welcome decrease in VAT from 25% to 12% will stimulate the increase in employment of repair men and ladies, reduce the amount of stuff going to landfill and save consumers money which will in turn give the economy a shot in the arm. A triple win that’s bound to be looked at closely by all the other wannabe Viking nations.

Of more direct benefit might be the additional proposal that will allow Swedes to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs to appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines, and maybe Volvos. Now that really does sound like an incentive to make do and mend.

This of course could work anywhere - even Britain. It doesn’t take a tax incentive to work out the economics of that triumvirate of sensible outcomes.

Adopting a policy of making better use of the resources we’ve already bought and paid for should be sweet music to anyone’s ear. It certainly sounds like economic sense to us. Springfords can run the numbers for you and Benny and Bjorn could probably write a musical about it and, if that tug at the heart strings should cause one to break, you could always get a Swedish repairman to fix it - and claim back the costs too.

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springfords blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

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