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eBay and the Circular Economy: A continued look at advancing sustainability through Recommerce

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The “circular economy” is an economic system that aims to keep products and materials in use for longer, increasing the lifespan of things that are manufactured, and reducing waste. Recommerce is one action within the full circular economy and is the process of selling (or re-selling) pre-owned goods,  which helps extend the life of a product. This report focuses on how eBay helps expand circular consumption through product reuse, refurbishment, repair, and related strategies to extend the useful life of consumer goods.

The first part of this report provides a backdrop of the state of the circular economy, with a particular focus on the consumer electronics and fashion apparel sectors, which are two of the most impactful due to the overall high volume of consumption, relatively short product lifespans, and negative environmental impacts. Topics include the potential for increasing product reuse, refurbishment and repair, barriers holding back the wider resale of pre-owned and refurbished items, and policymaker interest in Europe.

The second part of this report uses the results of surveys of eBay sellers in the European Union and Australia to provide insights into the interest and capabilities of small businesses and individuals in those markets to advance recommerce more broadly by meeting consumer demands for sustainable commerce and helping extend the useful life of a wide range of consumer products to great environmental and economic benefit. This section includes a focus on the key circular economy sectors of consumer electronics, fashion and apparel, and, for the EU, motor parts.  This section also includes recommendations for policymakers in the European Union and Australia when considering sustainability and environmental issues.