1.1. Introduction– 73 wordsThis report attemptsto answer the question “To what extent is the Sharing Economy environmentallysustainable?”.
First of all, the methodology used when searching academicliterature is explained. Section 1.3 then defines what the sharing economymodel is and evaluates the different views found in the literature in relationto the environmental sustainability of the model.
Lastly, the conclusion statesthe answer to the research question and explains what further work is needed. 1.2. Methodology– 186 wordsGoogle scholaras well as the university Library Search were used in order to find relevantacademic journal articles. The first search using the term ‘sharing economy’resulted in more than 3 million articles. Consequently,further searches were done using more specific terms and phrases such as’benefits of the sharing economy’ or ‘sustainability of the sharing economy’ inorder to find more relevant articles. The period range was also reduced to onlyshow articles published after 2013.
This resulted 81,800 articles about ‘sustainabilityof the sharing economy’. The first few pages were inspected and 4 articles werechosen for use to answer the research question. Different experiments were thendone such as including only articles which had both terms in their titles.
Thisresulted in only 12 articles, 1 of which was selected for most relevance to theresearch question. Other searchterms such as ‘negative effects of the sharing economy’ and ‘environmentalimpact of the sharing economy’ were researched on both Google Scholar andLibrary Search. A total of 8 academic journal articles were done following thisresearch method and experimenting with search terms. 1.
3. Summaryof Research Findings & Critical Analysis – 637 wordsThe literaturefound around the Sharing Economy gives different definitions for the model. Heinrichs(2013) defines the model as using market intelligence in order to promote acollaborative and sustainable society.
Whilst this is true about the model, itis too general. Daunoriené et. Al. (2015) explains that the sharing economy is”the benefits of capturing value with temporary access-rights to a product orservice” (p.836). Technology isa central part of the model. In fact, Martin (2016) goes even further anddefines the model as “the online platform which enables citizens to engage inpeer-to-peer (P2P) form of economic activity” (p.151).
The sharing economy encompasses anumber of different sectors and business models, with transportation andaccommodation, accounting for 50% of the transaction volumes related to sharingactivities in 2015 in the UK (Statista, 2015). Themodel, although widely used by many people, companies, and in many countries,has both positive and negative impacts to the environment. The benefits of ittend to be more known, which is one of the reasons why the model became widelyused.One of themain benefits of the sharing economy is that it reduces the demand for newgoods, which means that less goods are being produced (Frenken and Schor, 2017)(Daunoriené et. Al., 2015). Secondly, as Heinrichs (2013) explains, the modelrelies on people using products rather than owning them.
Consequently, morepeople are finding new uses for old goods that they own, and share them withother rather than throwing them away, which is a form of upcycling. Mehra (2017)explains that by sharing old or unused assets, which leads to less productionof goods, greenhouse gases emissions are reduced. Moreover, he states that whenhomes are being shared, water consumption is greatly reduced too. Thesebenefits are one of the main reasons why people participate in the sharingeconomy.
In fact, a study found that 32% of people indicate ‘to be green’ as afactor for participating in sharing activities (Bocker and Meelen, 2017). Peoplewant to do ‘green consumption’ more and more and they believe that the sharingeconomy is environmentally sustainable (Hamari et. Al., 2015). Althoughit is believed to be environmentally sustainable, the sharing economy is verycriticized, and many of the benefits of it are not proven (Frenken, 2017)(Frenken and Schor, 2017). In fact, Verboven and Vanherck (2016), explain thatthe model has many unintended side-effects, which lead to negative impacts forthe environment.
Maxwell (2011), calls this the rebound effect, which isdefined as “an increase in consumption which may occur as an unintendedside-effect of the introduction of policy, market and technology interventionsaimed at environmental efficiency improvements.” (Cited in Verboven andVanherck, 2016, p.305). This rebound effect leads to hyper consumption as theproducts or services are offered at lower prices.
Asa consequence, some of the unintended effects that impact the environmentnegatively are: increase use of car and transports, increase electricity andgas usage in houses that would normally be left empty, and over-consumption,such as using shared bikes instead of walking (Yeo, 2017) (Verboven andVanherck, 2016). Thus,Martin (2016) believes that the model is unlikely to drive sustainabilitytransition as its benefits are very limited compared to its negativeside-effects. Nevertheless,it is important to state that due to the many different business models andsectors included in the sharing economy, the benefits and negative impacts willnot always be the same. In fact, Frenken(2017) explains that the sector with the highest environmental benefits iscar-sharing.
He states that car-sharing leads to a 13-18% decrease in CO2emissions (Frenken, 2017). Consequently, it is not surprising to see that theenvironmental motivations for participating in the sharing economy are higher forcar and ride sharing than for the other sectors (Bocker and Meelen, 2017). 1.
4. Conclusions– 112 wordsOverall, thesharing economy is not fully environmentally sustainable. As the analysis aboveshows, the authors who write about the topic all have different opinions on thisquestion. Although it is clear that the intentions of the companies and peopleparticipating in it are to be more ‘green’ and to consume sustainably, thenegative unintended side-effects cause the model to be widely criticized and tobe used for more economic benefits and goals. Further work is needed in findingout more in-depth what the benefits and disadvantages of each sector andbusiness model are in order to have a better idea of whether the disadvantagescounter balance the benefits or not.