New report values Australia’s ‘circular trading’ at $48 billion – and it’s growing

By Rachael Ridley  June 17th, 2021

New research from online marketplace Gumtree estimates the value of trading pre-loved items within the circular economy in Australia could be worth more than $48 billion.

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The insight is part of Gumtree’s new research report Trading in the Circular Economy, which found Australian households own approximately $5,300 worth of pre-loved, unused, or unwanted items that could be sold through online community marketplaces. The report also found this figure continues to grow, with an increase of 4 per cent in the last 12 months and 89 per cent over the last 10 years.

Key findings from the report:

  • In the past year, Australians have diverted approximately 110 million items from landfill through selling pre-loved or unused items

  • 56 per cent of Australians trading through the circular economy as a means to practise sustainability did so to help reduce their impact on the environment

  • 87 per cent of Australians are holding onto pre-loved or unused items that could be sold through online community marketplaces

  • 53 per cent of Australians who experienced a decrease in revenue or income due to COVID-19 turned to circular trading to supplement loss of income

Trading in the circular economy supporting sustainable lifestyles

An encouraging trend highlighted in the report indicates many Australians are participating in circular trading as a form of positive environmental action. More than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed said their use of trading pre-loved items in the circular economy was directly linked to a desire to reduce consumerism and recycle more, while 50 per cent said they wanted to reduce waste to landfill and 33 per cent wanted to be ‘conscious consumers’.

Planet Ark’s Head of Circular Economy Development, Dr Nicole Garofano, sees online marketplaces as an integral component of the circular economy that mutually benefits communities and the environment.   

“The beauty of the circular economy is that, as part of our communities, we can all help each other out,” said Dr Garofano.

“Your unwanted item taking up space might be exactly the thing your neighbour needs to transform their home. The planet needs a community marketplace like Gumtree to give us the tools we need to unlock our financial freedom and the sustainability of our planet at the same time.”

Environmental and financial benefits key to increasing participation

Gumtree’s online marketplace enables seven million people every month to participate in the circular economy by trading pre-loved, unwanted and unused goods, whether they realise that’s what they are doing or not. In the past year, 86 per cent of Australians have saved pre-loved items from going into landfill by selling them in the circular economy. On average, these individuals saved 16 items on average which equates to approximately 110 million items being saved from landfill. As a community marketplace, Gumtree allows Australians to share more and waste less.

The items likely to make the most money when sold are clothing and accessories followed by electronics – two of the fastest growing waste streams in Australia. Australians send approximately six tonnes of textiles to landfill every minute, while also having one of the highest rates of electronic waste (21.7 kilograms per person) in the world.

While this may seem like a grim portrait of Australian consumerism, Planet Ark research indicates 72 per cent of Australians are concerned about waste. Online marketplaces are part of the solution, providing Australians with a platform to make mindful purchases and responsibly dispose of unwanted belongings. 

The key to increasing participation will be in informing the public of the environmental and personal benefits of the sharing economy. With almost one in two Australians reporting the pandemic affected their income in some way, online trading presents an opportunity for Australians to regain financial security.

Managing Director for Gumtree Australia, Mark Kehoe, said many Australians are trading pre-loved items online to supplement loss of income. 

“We know that when we trade together, we save together and our hope is that the findings in the report can go some way to encourage more communities across Australia to discover the financial benefits of the circular economy while, at the same time, making better choices for the planet,” said Mr Kehoe.

“The items making people money are everyday items, which shows just how simple it is!”

Download the Trading in the Circular Economy research report in full.

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Rachael Ridley

Rachael joined Planet Ark in early 2019 after eight years working in media and publishing as a producer, editor and writer. Rachael loves using her skills in content creation and communication to instigate positive environmental behaviour change. Outside of work, Rachael enjoys spending time in nature, listening to music and patting dogs.

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