The concept of shopping centres is the same worldwide. You put together a great retail mix, you tell customers about it and hopefully they come. There’s not a lot of world firsts in this industry. The state of play consists of landlords and property owners trying to improve their offering to create better customer experiences through innovation, but there are always boundaries and budgets to consider. However, it’s no surprise that this world first comes from the innovative land of Sweden. Shopping Centre News spoke to the managers of this mall and we couldn’t help but share this world first and how it is trading.
ReTuna Återbruksgalleria is the world’s first recycling mall, revolutionising shopping in a climate-smart and trend setting way. Everything sold at this centre is recycled or reused or has been organically or sustainably produced.
Located next to the ReTuna Återvinningscentral recycling centre in Eskilstuna, the mall opened in 2015. ReTuna Återbruksgalleria and ReTuna Återvinningscentral are run by the municipality-owned company Eskilstuna Energioch Miljö (EEM). Local politicians had been thinking about the idea for a while and in 2014 turned the idea into a reality.
EEM is a municipal company tasked with running competitive organisations in the energy and environmental sector. EEM aims to deliver optimal benefit to customers and residents – with minimal impact on the environment. The goal is to serve as a role model and source of inspiration in relation to energy and the environment, and to create sustainable societal benefit for current and future generations.
Customers and visitors 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) performs 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.
And the concept is working. “The turnover since opening in August 2015 is over 20 million SEK and about 700 customers visit us every day. More than 4,000 people come here on a booked study visit and ReTuna has delivered over 50 new job opportunities,” said Mall Manager, Anna Bergström. Now, this is nothing compared to commercial shopping centres but what differentiates this centre is the educational value it brings to the community, and in fact, the world. It has generated interest around the globe, and not to mention the thousands of tourists whom want to experience the innovation.
“Two weeks ago, we had a new opening Ecohome and in a week we will open a remaking-shop that will recreate old clothes, fabrics, repairing and new textiles with high sustainable certifications. After opening the textiles shop, we have only one area to build and we hope to establish an eco-friendly beauty salon or a package-free grocery store. Then we will have the perfect mix for the mall,” said Anna.
ReTuna is more than just a marketplace. It also aims to be a public educator. ReTuna organises events, workshops, lectures and theme days – all with a focus on sustainability. The folk high school Eskilstuna Folkhögskola conducts its one-year education program “Recycle Design – Återbruk” at 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.
The ReTuna-goals are set by the common (within EU) waste plan; which strives to reduce waste and see waste as an unused resource. The people of Eskilstuna are more aware of living a sustainable lifestyle. That puts ReTuna and Eskilstuna on the global map by being renowned as a sustainable business that supports the circular economy. It also puts Sweden at the forefront of recycling, upcycling and sustainability. Next time you’re in Sweden, check it out!