City and local authority solutions: ReTuna, Sweden

Located near the wetlands and the River Eskilstunaån in Eskistuna, Sweden, ReTuna is the world’s first ‘recycling gallery’ or reuse mall. Here old things are taken and revived or repurposed by repair and upcycling. Everything sold is recycled or recycled or sustainably produced.  ReTuna Återbruksgalleria and Retuna Återvinningscentral are run by the municipality-owned company Eskilstuna Energi och Miljö (EEM).

The gallery was opened in August 2015 and is located adjacent to the Municipal Recycling Center at Folkestaleden 7 in Eskilstuna. Like many household waste recycling centres it is designed to allow visitors to drop off materials into defined bays, and additionally, to leave reusable toys, furniture, clothes, gadgets, and technology in the “Returns” lane. Here, the material is received by staff from AMA (Eskilstuna municipality resource unit for Activity, Motivation and Work), for initial sorting. Then the items are distributed into bays; one for each of the independent stores in the mall. The stores undertake further sorting and choose what they want to repair, repurpose, and sell or pass on. Other items are stripped of useful parts for future repairs and upcycling.

An electronic keyboard is dropped off at ‘Returns’, Amjad, who runs Re:Compute-IT collects it. Externally it looks fine but is not working. It is taken to the repair workshop behind the store. There, Mhealdin opens it and begins the diagnosis. The problem is a simple fault with the power supply. Less than six hours after being dropped off, it is on sale in the store. Re:Compute-IT repair and refurbish phones, computers, TVs, technology, anything electronic. Simon who also works there tells me that for most peoples’ needs a 9- or 10-year-old computer is still quite capable but may require with a cheap storage or memory upgrade.

Next door is ReModa – glass and homeware business run by sisters Eva and Anita. A few doors down, Maria Larsson runs Ecoflora, a home decorations and florist business. Home decorations are made by upcycling unrepairable items (which may come from some of the other stores).  While I am there, she is upcycling an old table lamp, using leather cut into discs from an unrepairable jacket. The effect is like a pinecone and complements other floral and arboreal creations. Next door is Maja who runs Alexinas clothing and vintage store. She sells repaired and repurposed clothes and also removes useful items from unrepairable clothing for future repairs or upcycling.

Downstairs the AMA Outlet is run by Robert.  They sell refurbished tools and recovered building items. Next door, at ReBuyke, Tony and Mohedin repair and refurbish bikes, sports goods, and gardening equipment.  Through the side door, their shop spills out on to the lawn next to the ReTuna mall.

A couple of larger companies also operate at ReTuna: Stadmissionens a Stockholm headquartered business sells furniture and IKEA have now opened a secondhand store.

There are many opportunities to create similar capabilities in cities across the world.  Each instance can help us take a step to increase reuse and reduce our negative impact.