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Contribution of Online Trading of Used Goods to Resource Efficiency: An Empirical Study of eBay Users

Author(s): Jens Clausen | Birgit Blättel-Mink | Lorenz Erdmann | Christine Henseling

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 2;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 1810;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: online marketplaces | online auctions | consumer | electronic commerce | used products | second-hand market | sustainable consumption

This paper discusses the sustainability impact (contribution to sustainability, reduction of adverse environmental impacts) of online second-hand trading. A survey of eBay users shows that a relationship between the trading of used goods and the protection of natural resources is hardly realized. Secondly, the environmental motivation and the willingness to act in a sustainable manner differ widely between groups of consumers. Given these results from a user perspective, the paper tries to find some objective hints of online second-hand trading’s environmental impact. The greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the energy used for the trading transactions seem to be considerably lower than the emissions due to the (avoided) production of new goods. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for second-hand trade and consumer policy. Information about the sustainability benefits of purchasing second-hand goods should be included in general consumer information, and arguments for changes in behavior should be targeted to different groups of consumers.
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