Narrator: Everything in this
shopping mall is recycled. ReTuna is the first
secondhand mall in the world. Here, shop owners profit from what other people don't want. I found some jeans. A table. Some really old phones. You can find everything here. It's just your imagination. Narrator: But this is not your grandmother's antique shop. The ReTuna mall has a
staff of 50 professionals who clean, fix and tag every item. That one has to just be
cleaned up a little bit. Narrator: What makes this possible is the mall's location, right next door to the
municipal recycling center.
And the local government helps pay for it. It's a model on how to
save perfectly good stuff from being thrown away. Bye-bye. Narrator: Something that's a problem in a lot of other countries. In the US alone, 11 million tons of clothing,
shoes, and textiles end up in landfills every year. ReTuna has diverted
tons of potential waste since it opened six years ago, while generating millions in
revenue for small businesses. Even Sweden's most famous company, Ikea, refurbishes its furniture here. So could fixing recycling be as simple as a
conveniently placed mall? We went to Eskilstuna, Sweden, nicknamed the world's
recycling capital, to find out. People donate hundreds of used
items at ReTuna every day. They do not get any money for it. They do it by heart. Narrator: Sofia has managed
the mall since 2020. It could be anything. It could be electronics. It could be furniture. It could be textiles. Teamwork. If you don't need your old clothes you can just put it in there, and — One central place to get
rid of all your stuff. And you know that it's
going back into use again, which is really good.
Narrator: Mall workers sort the items in a massive storage area
that's closed to the public. They'll sort things based on which one of ReTuna's
14 stores they're headed to. This is a sewing machine. This is going to a store called Axelina that is selling vintage
clothing and the textiles. Narrator: The shops pay
nothing for the donated items, but they do pay rent
for their retail spaces. Here is Axelina's box. She already has one,
two, three, four, five, six sewing machines that
she is going to repair. Usually it doesn't work. Sometimes it's just they
need a little bit oil, little bit of love. Every shop here has their own box or their own white stripes. So here we can see it's Ikea's box. Now the coworkers will try to find out which furniture comes from Ikea. Narrator: Every day, Camilla and her team sort through dozens of items that could be resold at
Ikea's secondhand store.
Here you can see the queue of stuff that we collected today. Maybe 40 today, and that is a really good morning. Narrator: But not
everything makes the cut. Anything rejected heads back out to the
recycling center next door. Camilla: So now it's up
to the company, Ikea, to take care of the item
that is donated to them. Narrator: Refurbishers for
Ikea's secondhand store paint and steam-clean furniture. Almost as clean as the product that we sell
in the department store. So you're doing really good work, Johann. Narrator: In other areas,
old items can be upcycled into something new and unique. I'm building a Barbie house
home for my grandkids. It will be a really good one to take the Barbie for a good swim. Narrator: Electronics are also fixed up. Every day, over 700 people
shop at the ReTuna mall. Shop owners set their own prices, which means shoppers can
always find a bargain.
Reporter: Was it cheap? Yes, 50 crowns. Perfect. A lot of the customers
have a quite small wallet. So they would like to get a
lot of value for the money. Narrator: But it's not
just about the money. Other shoppers are just out looking for that one-of-a-kind discovery. I bought a picture, 59 crowns. It's very cheap. Narrator: ReTuna is part
of a larger initiative to breathe new life into Eskilstuna, a place that went into decline after the collapse of its
steel industry in the 1970s. About a decade ago, the city
kick-started its economy by going green.
Now, biogas made from trash
fuels buses and heats homes. Bike lanes wrap around public parks. The waste processing plan is experimenting with black soldier fly larva
to make compost faster. And the mall of used stuff is a success. For the smaller shops,
business is booming. Sales topped $1.8 million in 2020. Actually, last year when the pandemic was greater than ever, we have the highest
revenue here for the shops.
Narrator: But the Ikea secondhand store hasn't broken even. The company opened the
shop as a six-month trial, part of Ikea's sustainability initiative. We do have some difficulties
with the pandemic because we don't have that much
customer that we hoped for. I like that it's Ikea. We don't have Ikea, like
the big shop, in our city. So could the next ReTuna mall
be coming to a town near you? That is the only one
in the world, actually, but I'm really hoping
that it's going to be a lot of it all over the world, of course. Narrator: But most places
aren't like Sweden. The Swedes have one of the
best recycling programs in the world. Less than 1% of household
waste goes to landfill. The country's gotten so good at recycling, it's had to buy trash from other countries to keep its waste-to-energy
facilities humming. Anybody raised in Sweden knows how to separate trash
into five colorful bins.
The city of Eskilstuna
takes it to the next level. Most households separate their waste into seven different colored bags. It's a system that makes it easier for automated sorting
machines to do their job at the waste plant. But in the US, where 50% of
waste still goes to landfill, donating used items isn't as commonplace. Secondhand sales are
usually handled by charities like Salvation Army or Goodwill, rather than subsidized
by the local government like ReTuna is. But the desire to donate
is shifting stateside. Drop-off donations to
Goodwill and Salvation Army were up in 2020. It overwhelmed some
Goodwill stores so much they had to pay a $1 million trash bill to get rid of overflow items.
And there's a growing trend towards buying clothes
secondhand in the US. With over 2,600 overflowing landfills and hundreds of declining malls, maybe the solution is just a matter of building both a little closer together..