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Recommerce: Fueling Economic Opportunity and Sustainability

March 16, 2021

*Written by eBay President and CEO Jamie Iannone, this blog originally appeared on eBayinc.com.

eBay sellers

When I listed my Hammond B-3 organ on eBay, I had no idea that sale would bring new life to an organ I’d owned since I was a teenager. Now, a talented church organist plays it far better and for greater audience enjoyment than I ever could. My story is only one of millions. And that’s the magic of our marketplace. Starting with the first sale of a broken laser pointer by our founder Pierre Omidyar more than 25 years ago, sellers and buyers from all over the world have connected through objects from years and seasons past. This pioneered the global circular economy of buying, selling and repurposing pre-owned items — which we now call recommerce. Today, with over 185 million buyers and more than 19 million sellers, our marketplace helps people connect and give items new life and value. 

eBay’s purpose has always been to create economic opportunity for all. This purpose is increasingly imperative as people seek the benefits of ecommerce either as an extra income source or a full-time job. Our role as partners to sellers helps people with big dreams get their small businesses off the ground — or sustains livelihoods and everyday needs. And recommerce cuts across generations, with buyers of all ages and interests shopping with sustainable benefits in mind.

Recommerce is an avenue of economic opportunity and growth for our community — and I know this is true now more than ever during the global pandemic. This past year, we’ve seen sellers increasingly turn to reselling pre-owned goods as an additional revenue stream. Our recent Recommerce Report shows that almost 90% of consumer sellers in the U.S. have sold pre-owned goods in the past year, at levels far greater than just a few years ago.

The number of buyers who are also becoming sellers is growing as people are realizing they can make money on items lying around their homes. We’ve found that Americans have an average of 36 household items that can be sold on eBay for around $3,600 — items that would otherwise be donated or thrown out. These items include only-on-eBay finds, practical objects and on-trend vintage apparel. While they might be going unused in a seller’s house, these items are just what someone else, somewhere in the world, is looking for. 

At the same time, our marketplace brings sellers and buyers together not just as customers, not just for transactions, but also as members of our global community. I’m inspired by how our community is joining together to support recommerce as a building block for climate action.      

Buying and selling pre-owned goods brings us one step closer to a greener future. Recommerce doesn’t just keep unused objects out of landfills — it also conserves energy, resources and costs of creating new items from the entire product lifecycle. It’s amazing that last year alone, our community helped save 720,000 metric tons of carbon emissions through sales of pre-owned electronics and clothing. We believe we can do even more. Our new goal is to avoid another 3 million metric tons of emissions through these types of sales by 2025.

eBay is about people — about making lives better through economic opportunity, creating new memories and connecting as a community to support others. We are proud of our role as a pioneer in recommerce. And we look forward to continuing to partner with our community in this journey forward.