Can the sharing economy actually help the planet?

by | Apr 26, 2017 | Cir­cu­lar eco­nomy, Share Peter­bor­ough

With the grow­ing scarcity of raw mater­i­als coupled with the increas­ing pres­sures for skills, ser­vices, hous­ing, and oth­er spaces, the shar­ing eco­nomy is increas­ingly seen as an appeal­ing solu­tion to the chal­lenges we face in cit­ies. But how sus­tain­able is the shar­ing eco­nomy? Does it ful­fil its prom­ises of improv­ing resource pro­ductiv­ity, redu­cing CO2 emis­sions and min­im­ising waste?

 

Most not­able shar­ing eco­nomy plat­forms include Airb­nb, Uber, TaskRab­bit and Bor­row My Doggy. The basic prin­ciple behind shar­ing eco­nomy or col­lab­or­at­ive con­sump­tion mod­els is the idea that if we can ‘share’ or ‘bor­row’ resources from each oth­er, we can increase the amount of value we receive from these resources, increas­ing resource effi­ciency and pro­ductiv­ity. 

 

Back in Decem­ber 2016, we launched Share Peter­bor­ough, becom­ing the first UK city to develop a B2B resource shar­ing plat­form. Allow­ing organ­isa­tions to share unused and under-util­ised resources, the online plat­form aims to ensure that we are mak­ing the most of the resources that we have in the city. This includes products and equip­ment, as well as spaces and people’s skills. Enabling an organ­isa­tion to find value in another organisation’s ‘waste’ intends to dir­ectly con­trib­ute to improv­ing resource effi­ciency and pro­ductiv­ity, whil­st min­im­ising waste in the city. 

 

Our exist­ing suc­cess stor­ies on the Share Peter­bor­ough plat­form sug­gest that there are real social, eco­nom­ic and envir­on­ment­al bene­fits from the shar­ing eco­nomy. Recent suc­cess stor­ies include Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil donat­ing a num­ber of unused desk fans to a loc­al hos­pice, Thorpe Hall Sue Ryder Hos­pice; a loc­al sta­tion­ery com­pany (Wal­ters Ltd) provid­ing an under-util­ised con­fer­ence room to a num­ber of busi­nesses in the city; the shar­ing of con­fer­ence exhib­i­tion equip­ment between loc­al organ­isa­tions; and Coca Cola European Part­ners offer­ing tele­phone equip­ment they no longer needed to oth­er organ­isa­tions in exchange for a small dona­tion to char­ity.

 

Shar­ing eco­nomy plat­forms, whereby mon­et­ary trans­ac­tions take place, are often cri­ti­cised for not being genu­inely part of the ‘shar­ing’ eco­nomy. In Peter­bor­ough, we’re work­ing hard to cre­ate a real shar­ing eth­os across the city, in which organ­isa­tions can share skills, know­ledge, spaces, products and oth­er under-util­ised assets free of charge. We’ve recently made the plat­form access­ible to schools and com­munity organ­isa­tions, ensur­ing that the bene­fits are exten­ded bey­ond the busi­nesses com­munity. We’re aim­ing to cre­ate a vibrant online shar­ing com­munity, con­nect­ing a diverse range of organ­isa­tions with each oth­er.

 

 So can the shar­ing eco­nomy actu­ally help the plan­et? Yes, we believe that shar­ing eco­nomy mod­els, such as Share Peter­bor­ough, put people and the plan­et at the heart of the loc­al eco­nomy. In the case of Share Peter­bor­ough, the plat­form fosters col­lab­or­a­tion between organ­isa­tions and cre­ates social value, whil­st pro­mot­ing more sus­tain­able resource use through facil­it­at­ing oppor­tun­it­ies to share, reuse and repur­pose a num­ber of dif­fer­ent assets. Through shar­ing resources, you can help care for loc­al com­munit­ies and the plan­et. To max­im­ise the pos­it­ive impacts of the Share Peter­bor­ough plat­form, we need more busi­nesses and oth­er organ­isa­tions in the city to get involved.

If you’re a loc­al Peter­bor­ough organ­isa­tion you can join the plat­form for free and start shar­ing, swap­ping and sav­ing today: https://www.sharepeterborough.com/ .