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Climate-smart shopping in the world’s first recycling mall

Climate-smart shopping in the world’s first recycling mall
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In Sweden, environmental issues are constantly on people's minds and can lead to unique business models such as the ReTuna Återbruksgalleria - the world's first recycling mall.

Everything sold here is recycled or reused or has been organically or sustainably produced.

Living it caught up with Anna Bergström, the Mall's manager, to talk about this business model

How did the idea first emerge to have a recycling shopping mall in Eskilstuna?

The original idea came from local politicians in 2006 or 2007. According to the waste management plan, all the municipalities should reduce waste and start some kind of business where it is possible to reuse these unwanted resources. By 2015, after a long discussion, the shopping mall and the recycling centre could open their doors. This non-profit business is run by the municipality-owned company Eskilstuna Energi och Miljö (EEM). When I accepted this mission I immediately saw that this is a brilliant concept not only to take old things and transform them into something new but also to reduce waste, create new job opportunities and teach the locals to be more sustainable.

How is different from any second-hand shop?

When you go to a flea market or a regular second-hand shop, it is often quite messy, while our store owners try to have their items presented just like (brands such as) Hugo Boss does, even if these are upcycled and old things. So eventually, people leave their used things in the drop-off station and later some of them told me that they had bought their own old things back. Of course, in an upcycled form. So I believe this is just a question of the presentation.

How does it work?

People come to the recycling centre, just outside the shopping mall, to drop off their unwanted items, 7 days a week. Our staff take care of it, sort it and supply to the stores. As they all have their own business plan, they are responsible for the rest of the work. They do further sorting, upcycling and pricing. There is a furniture store, a florist, a pet shop, a toy shop, clothes and sports stores, even a building materials store. There is also a restaurant with organic food. We have 700-1000 people visiting the mall on a daily basis.

One of the original goals of the mall was to educate the public on environmental issues? How does it work?

We have a one-year course for grown-ups, teaching them old Swedish traditional handcrafts but with these (recycled) materials. They work with paper, fabric and textile among others. There are also conference rooms, where guests can hold climate-smart meetings, but any company, organisation, or union is welcome. Often coming here gives business people ideas to do something green in their field. We want to be the inspiration for others to do something similar, even though our mission is local.

Click on the video above to take a look around the shopping mall.