296: Second-hand Shopping Mall


A large proportion of goods sold in the thousands of shopping malls around the world eventually end up in landfills, particularly their packaging.


Second-hand recycling shopping centre

Anna Bergstrom moved to Eskilstuna an hour’s train journey west of Stockholm in 2012, after becoming disillusioned with the huge waste she encountered during her career in commercial fashion;

Eskilstuna was already implementing a spate of green initiatives, vying to make it the most environmentally friendly city in Sweden – and perhaps the world.

Public buses and cars are run on biogas and electricity, and the town uses low-carbon combined heat and power plants, which use the thermal energy from electricity production to heat water. Residents sort their waste into seven multicoloured categories at home – green for food, pink for textiles, grey for metal, yellow for paper, blue for newspaper, orange for plastic and black for mixed.

Three years’ later, Bergstrom added her solution, “ReTuna Återbruksgalleria” (“Tuna” because that’s the nickname for the city where it is based – Eskilstuna, – and “Re” because the goods on sale have been recycled or repurposed)

At ReTuna, run by the municipality-owned company Eskilstuna Energi och Miljö (EEM), it is easy for visitors to sort materials they are discarding into the containers and then drop off reusable toys, furniture, clothes, decorative items, and electronic devices in the mall’s depot, called “Returen”.

In the depot, staff from AMA (Eskilstuna Municipality’s resource unit for activity, motivation and work) perform an initial culling of what is usable and what is not.

The items are then distributed to the recycling shops in the mall. The shop staff then perform a second culling, where they choose what they want to repair, fix up, convert, refine – and ultimately sell. In this way, the materials are given new life.

It’s very important to Anna that this place is enticing, because Bergstrom feels it is making a statement. Everything for sale here, in 14 specialist shops covering everything from clothes to DIY tools, is recycled.and for the past four years people have been able to drop off their unwanted goods for recycling at Bergström’s secondhand mall.

In a store that specialises in handmade household ornaments, Bergstrom is keen to show off a nice example of this, from one of her star tenants. Shopkeeper Maria Larsson has upcycled a container that resembles the body of a pine cone. Each segment of its skin has been cut from leather jackets.

In 2018, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria had SEK 11.7 million in sales for recycled products.

ReTuna also organizes events, workshops, lectures, theme days, and more – all with a focus on sustainability. The folk high school Eskilstuna Folkhögskola conducts its one-year education program “Recycle Design – Återbruk” in the premises. There are also conference rooms, where guests can hold climate-smart meetings. Organic lunch and baked treats are on offer at Café Returama.

What you can do: If you are able, shop at ReTuna.

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