Second-hand trade has big environmental impact according to Adevinta study

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  • 20.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions potentially saved by online consumers

 London and Oslo, 14 April 2021: 20.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions were potentially saved by consumers who chose to buy and sell used items through ten online marketplaces operated by Adevinta and Schibsted, according to the Second Hand Effect 2020 report (SHE), published today. 

By offering users platforms where they can buy and sell, online marketplaces reduce the need for newly produced goods and promote more sustainable consumption. This key concept is what Adevinta and Schibsted call the Second Hand Effect. 

The report, the methodology for which was developed in close collaboration with IVL, the Swedish Environmental Research Institute and sustainability consultancy Ethos International, is in its eighth iteration since launching in 2013. It looks at how much CO2 and materials (plastic, steel and aluminium) have potentially been saved through second-hand trade on participating marketplaces. The calculations are based on the idea that keeping a second-hand item in use means avoiding the production of a new item and disposal of the old one, which translates into savings of CO2 emissions and amount of plastic, aluminium and steel.

These purchases and sales saved:

  • 20.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, about the same as the yearly emissions of 2.36 million Britons
  • 1.2 million tonnes of plastic, equivalent to 21.8 billion two litre plastic bottles, or 201 billion plastic gloves
  • 7.8 million tonnes of steel, that is enough to make 1,075 Eiffel Towers
  • 0.7 million tonnes of aluminium, the same amount used for 1.8 billion Italian coffee makers

This year’s figure compares to 25.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions potentially saved in 2019. 

Although the first lockdown restrictions affected the remaining sites in the SHE project (which accounted for a 9% reduction in the number of SHE ads overall), there was a particularly sharp impact from the 19% reduction in ads for used motor vehicles, a category associated with a high level of environmental savings. Nonetheless, we saw strong improvements in the second half of 2020, with traffic back to pre-covid levels on some of our sites.

The covid pandemic has proven the value of stay-at-home shopping and further accelerated the pace of change. In the second half of 2020, the shift towards more sustainable consumption has amplified the role of the online marketplace and increased the potential for environmental savings. 

Rolv Erik Ryssdal, CEO of Adevinta, said:

“By offering online platforms where our users can easily buy and sell second-hand items, we reduce the need for newly produced goods and promote more sustainable consumption. This is what we call the Second Hand Effect. We want to encourage people to make second-hand their first choice, providing lasting positive impacts in the circular economy.

“Following the completion of our acquisition of eBay Classifieds Group, we will become the world’s leading online classifieds pure player with unprecedented scale. We will benefit from leading positions in 16 countries, covering 1 billion people. Which will give us the platform to make real environmental change.”

Kristin Skogen Lund, CEO of Schibsted, said:

“With the Second Hand Effect project we want to raise awareness about the environmental benefits of reusing items and minimising waste, and visualise our users’ contribution to the circular economy. With our marketplaces around the world, we empower consumers to act in more environmentally-friendly ways.”

The growing significance of online marketplace operators like Adevinta to the retail sector has been amplified by the drive in consumer behaviour for more trust, convenience and transparency, as well as more sustainable consumption.