Returbutiken (reuse shop) and Textilservice (sewing service) are enterprises connected to recycling centres and part of a municipality labour market programme.
Returbutiken och Textilservice are two reuse activities that are part of Viva Arbetsmarknad, Umeå’s largest labour market programme. Returbutiken sells reuse products collected from private individuals through Vakin's recycling reception at recycling centres but also directly from private individuals, the municipality, private companies and the police's lost & found department. Textilservice repairs and sews new products from recycled textiles submitted in the same way as to Returbutiken. Textilservice products are sold mainly through Returbutiken but also in libraries and other places. Although both businesses sell reuse products, the main purpose of these is to provide meaningful work training to participants who are outside the labour market. Returbutiken and Textilservice are not expected to carry their own costs or be financially sustainable through the sale of recycled products. Sales cover approximately 1 500 to 2 000 items per day worth 0.6 million € annually.

Resources needed

The total budget for Returbutiken including the workshops (of which Textilservice is a part) is 2.5 million € for 2019, of which 0.6 million € are estimated sales from the Returbutiken and 1.9 million € is financing from the Municipality of Umeå. Staffing consists of 52 participant and 10 staff.

Evidence of success

During 2019 Returbutiken has received 300 000 kg of recycled products from recycling centres and 11 500 kg of IT equipment from the Municipality of Umeå. Sales of reuse products during 2019 were 1500 - 2000 items per day and a sales income of 0.6 million €. Returbutiken and Textilservice have 10 employees and 52 participants. The participants receive job training, internship, rehabilitation, vocational training, or other customized efforts to help them approach the regular labour market.

Difficulties encountered

Throughput and sales depend on the participants' competence which varies depending on which individuals are participating at any given moment. For Returbutiken and Textilservice, the main aim is a labour market programme and not a production or sales target.

Potential for learning or transfer

Returbutiken and Textilservice can present a holistic model within social responsibility with reuse as a basis. A well-functioning interaction between several actors (Swedish Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen), the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), Region Västerbotten (health care), social services and municipal adult education) provides staffing while participants in the labour market programme receive valuable work experience. Returbutiken and Textilservice show how reuse products can be obtained through a wide range of channels ranging from recycling centres to the police's lost & found department.

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Main institution
County Administration Board of Västerbotten
Övre Norrland, Sweden (Sverige)
Start Date
January 1998
End Date


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Good Practices being followed by

Berthold Schleich

Office of the Regional Government of Styria