eBay releases methodology for calculating environmental and financial benefits of recommerce and 2021 impact report

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Pioneer of circular commerce reports 4.6 million carbon emissions avoided; $7.9 billion in positive economic impact since 2016 from pre-owned products sold on eBay

eBay Inc., pioneer of circular commerce connecting 17 million sellers and 147 million buyers around the world, is releasing for the first time its methodology for calculating the environmental and financial benefits of keeping products in circulation, preventing them from immediate disposal to landfill or incineration. The company is also releasing findings from its 2021 Impact Report, detailing progress toward 2025 and 2030 goals tied to economic empowerment and sustainability.

“eBay has been at been at the forefront of circular commerce for 25 years, starting with that first sale of a used laser pointer, and we are proud of the environmental impact our buyers and sellers have generated through the use of our platform,” said Jamie Iannone, president and CEO of eBay.  “Our focus is to simplify selling and buying to make sustainability equitable and attainable for all – while empowering people to make meaningful choices for their purchases, businesses and the planet.”

Methodology for Calculating Environmental and Financial Benefits of Recommerce

eBay has been calculating the estimated environmental impact of the platform’s consumer-to-consumer sales of used and refurbished goods for many years and is now open sourcing its methodology for how avoided carbon emissions and avoided waste impacts are calculated, in partnership with third-party expert Anthesis.

The brand has identified a list of five categories representing the wide range of used or refurbished goods sold on its platform – Electronics, Fashion, Lifestyle, Media, Parts and Accessories, for which standardized outputs are calculated:

  • Avoided GHG emissions (kg CO2e per item)
  • Avoided landfill (kg for category and country)
  • Avoided incineration (kg for category and country)
  • Positive financial impact ($) 

According to this methodology, of the five categories listed, purchasing a used or refurbished product from the Electronics, Fashion and Parts & Accessories categories will have the most environmental benefit. 

“The information allows consumers to make meaningful decisions about what used or refurbished products they decide to purchase, while understanding how the positive impact from this purchase on the environment is calculated,” says Renee Morin, CSO at eBay.  “It also serves as a model for other companies to leverage as they consider tracking their own impact, and we’re proud to offer this level of transparency. If we can standardize on the categories of avoided GHG, avoided landfill or incineration and positive financial impact, people can make informed choices when they have a chance to buy pre-owned items. It becomes a purchasing tool much like the nutrition label is for food.  And, with recommerce growing faster than selling and buying new products on eBay’s marketplace, finding a way to quantify positive impacts is good for everyone.”

To learn more about the calculations for each output, visit here

2021 Impact Report

eBay’s 2021 Impact report, released today, unveils the cumulative environmental and economic impact that selling and purchasing used or refurbished products on eBay has.

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In 2020, eBay exceeded its initial circular commerce goal through the consumer-to-consumer sale of pre-owned electronics and apparel, avoiding a total of 3.1 million metric tons of carbon emissions and contributing $3.8 billion in positive economic impact from 2016-2020.

The brand is now progressing toward a new goal of creating $20 billion in positive economic impacts, avoiding 7 million metric tons of carbon emissions and avoiding 230,000 metric tons of waste through selling pre-owned and refurbished on eBay by 2025 across five product categories. In 2021 alone, the brand reports the following progress:

  • Created $4 billion in positive economic impact
  • Avoided 1.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions
  • Avoided 47,000 metric tons of waste

Additional noteworthy 2021 progress toward eBay’s sustainability goals include:

  • Carbon emissions: eBay achieved a 26% absolute reduction in Scope 1 and 2 Greenhouse Gas emissions in 2021 (goal: 90% absolute reduction by 2030); achieved a 7% absolute reduction in Scope 3 downstream transportation and distribution from a 2019 baseline (goal 20% absolute reduction by 2030).
  • Renewable Energy: eBay sourced 90% of electricity supply from renewable energy sources for eBay-controlled data centers and offices in 2021 (goal: 100% sourced by 2025).

To learn more about eBay’s efforts and impact across economic opportunity, sustainable commerce, culture and workforce and as a trusted marketplace, visit the 2021 Impact Report here.

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