3 min read 25 May 23
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eBay is a large online marketplace, with approximately 147 million active buyers bidding on 1.5 billion listings across 190 worldwide markets.
eBay’s business model centres around ‘re-commerce’ – the sale of used, refurbished and out-of-season items, rather than new products. According to management, nearly 90% of gross merchandise value (GMV) is made up of used, refurbished and non-new products.
Therefore, eBay primarily makes a positive impact through its contribution to the circular economy. This involves re-using and recycling the products already in the economic system, rather than relying solely on new products. This change in consumption patterns helps to avoid the extraction of new materials, the fabrication of these materials (which can be energy intensive), and negates the need for products to be placed in landfill prematurely (where they will produce further emissions).
According to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, of which eBay is a member, up to 20% of carbon emissions could be avoided by adopting a more circular method to the way in which our economy operates. It will therefore play an essential role in global efforts to reach net-zero emissions.
The nature of eBay’s business model makes the collection of impact data difficult. With so many listings, the company is somewhat reliant on sellers accurately categorising their products as new, refurbished or used. However, the company sends users surveys and engages with third parties to get a clearer picture.
Furthermore, eBay engages with independent specialists to calculate and validate its data for avoided emissions and landfill waste. The company believes the current numbers are conservative, and will look to improve the methodology and accuracy over time. Encouragingly, eBay also produces an annual impact report, covering the company’s impact and sustainability priorities, new initiatives in these areas, and its methodology for calculating impact metrics.
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