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Environmental impacts and potential of the sharing economy

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Skjelvik, John Magne, Anne Maren Erlandsen, and Oscar Haavardsholm. 2017. “Environmental impacts and potential of the sharing economy.” TemaNord 2017:554. Copenhagen, Denmark: Nordic Council of Ministers.

The concept of a “sharing economy” has recently emerged to give name to digital platforms for the exchange of services. It is often claimed that the sharing economy have, or might lead to, significant environmental benefits in the form of increased resource efficiency and reductions in environmental burdens. However, not much solid research has so far been done on this, theoretical or empirical. This report gives an overview of some current sharing economy initiatives in the Nordic countries, analyses the change in consumer behavior that these initiatives could lead to, and assess what environmental impacts these changes might imply. It seems from the report that it is not evident that the sharing economy always lead to environmental improvements. Sometimes it is necessary to encourage sharing initiatives, and introduce supporting regulatory measures in order to achieve environmental benefits. The report was funded by the Environment and Economy Group (MEG) and Sustainable Consumption and Production Group (HKP) under the Nordic Council of Ministers and prepared by Vista Analyse.

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