Sharing economy rebound: The case of peer-to-peer sharing of food waste

Tamar Meshulam, David Font-Vivanco, Vered Blass, Tamar Makov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

The digital sharing economy is commonly thought to promote sustainable consumption and improve material efficiency through better utilization of existing product stocks. However, the cost savings and convenience of using digital sharing platforms can ultimately stimulate additional demand for products and services. As a result, some or even all of the expected environmental benefits attributed to sharing could be offset, a phenomenon known as the rebound effect. Relying on a unique dataset covering over 750,000 food items shared in the United Kingdom through a free peer-to-peer food-sharing platform, we use econometric modeling, geo-spatial network analysis, and environmentally extended input–output analysis to quantify how much of the expected environmental benefits attributed to sharing are offset via rebound effects under seven re-spending scenarios. We find that rebound effects can offset 59–94% of expected greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction, 20–81% of expected water depletion benefits, and 23–90% of land use benefit as platform users re-spent the money saved from food sharing on other goods and services. Our results demonstrate that rebound effects could limit the potential to achieve meaningful reductions in environmental burdens through sharing, and highlight the importance of incorporating rebound effects in environmental assessments of the digital sharing economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-895
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • environmental input–output analysis
  • food waste
  • industrial ecology
  • multi-regional input–output analysis
  • rebound effect
  • sharing economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Social Sciences

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