Environmental potential of the collaborative economy
Final report and annexes
Collaborative platforms, such as Airbnb, Blablacar and Peerby, have changed the ways in which goods and services are offered and consumed in the economy. There has been a recent growth in studies analysing the drivers, impacts and scope of the collaborative economy. Some of them point to positive environmental impacts of such platforms. However, none of the studies so far have provided a systematic, qualitative and quantitative analysis of the impacts. This study fills this gap by answering two questions: (1) What is the environmental impact of the collaborative economy today and in the... future? (2) Under which conditions will the collaborative economy contribute to a shift to a more sustainable development of the EU economy? This study developed five in-depth case studies, applied a Life-Cycle Assessment to analyse in detail the environmental impacts per platform and used a macro-econometric model to analyse the potential economic, employment and environmental impacts towards 2030. The results show that the way in which the collaborative economy creates environmental (and socio-economic) impacts is complex and can differ strongly per business model. In general, though, by increasing the utilisation of existing assets in the economy, the environmental impact of collaborative consumption is typically lower than traditional alternatives. Yet, as collaborative consumption allows consumers to save money, the extra consumption could offset these direct environmental gains.