Since 2015 the Swedish municipality of Eskilstuna, one hour west from Stokholm, hosts ReTuna Återbruksgalleria, the first recycling shopping mall in the world. Everything sold in this 5,000 m² center is repaired, reused, recycled, upcycled, organic or produced sustainably.
Resulting from an initiative from the local council, ReTuna is owned by the municipal company EEM -Eskilstuna Energi och Miljö, whose mission is to conduct sustainable energy and environmental projects while creating social benefits for the community. ReTuna belongs to its Recycling section, among the other five areas of activity of the company, related among others to electricity, water and energy distribution.
Located right next to the Retuna Recycling Center, also owned by EEM, visitors can conveniently leave reusable toys, furniture, clothes, house items and technology on their visit to the mall. An initial selection of the received material is done by AMA (Eskilstuna municipality’s resource unit for Activity, Motivation and Work), who then distributes the items to the recycling shops in the mall. There, every shop staff decides what they want to reuse, repair, transform, refine… and sell. And the business idea seems to work: since its start, recycled products sales have nearly doubled, generating currently a turnover of 15.4 million Swedish crowns (almost 2 million Canadian dollar), as per their 2020 results.
Beyond being a commercial platform, ReTuna aims also to be a public educator. Workshops, lectures, theme days and other activities – all with a focus on circularity and sharing of resources- are organized regularly: from a maker’s day to teach how to provide a longer life to bicycles, to clothes swapping events. In addition, ReTuna offers permanent programs, such as offering all the town’s preschools learning methods with recycled or reused materials. Through the institution for popular secondary education Eskilstuna Folkhögskola, the center also provides a one-year training, “Recycle Design”, on its premises. There are also conference rooms to hold ‘climate-smart meetings’ (as described in the ReTuna website), as well as Café Returama, offering organic lunch and coffee.
Once a steel-producing town, Eskilstuna suffered the rapid decline in the industry 50 years ago. Focusing on sustainability strategies, specially related to recycling and reuse of resources, has helped the municipality to revitalize Eskilstuna. The ReTune mall has created 50 jobs and raised awareness of the circular economy among the local population, while situating this once known as dirty industrial town back on the map.