The “Circular Economy 2021” study by the Wuppertal Institute shows that many people like secondhand and repairs.
Circular economy instead of Ex and hopp – that is the keyword for a more sustainable economy in the future. It is not just about improved recycling, about reusing raw materials that arise when disposing of old products – whether clothes, cell phones or cars. It also depends on an optimized product design that improves recycling, durability, reparability, sharing and multiple use. A study now shows: Citizens are open to change here – especially when it comes to the use of second-hand goods.
Buying and selling used products is not a new phenomenon. However, in times of electronic second-hand exchanges such as Ebay classified ads, rebuy or vinted (formerly clothing gyro), it has increased significantly. Many people also want to be able to use products for longer, as the booming use of repair cafés shows, of which there are more than 550 nationwide. And this part of the “circular economy” can still be expanded. In German drawers and cellars, billions of dollars are stored waiting for further use and repair – the only thing missing so far is the right incentives.
Buying and selling second-hand products is already a matter of course for many. According to a survey, seven out of ten respondents nationwide (71 percent) buy used things at least twice a year – mostly clothes, books, decorative objects and furniture, but also electronic devices. In turn, around 38 percent also sell used goods themselves at least twice a year. And almost half (47 percent) can imagine relying even more on the use of second-hand goods in the future. These are the results of the current study “Circular Economy 2021” by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, which was commissioned by Ebay classifieds and the Berlin Environment Senate.
In almost all households nationwide (88 percent) there are unused but still functional or repairable products. According to the study, they have an estimated total value of 52.6 billion euros. But more incentives are needed to unearth this treasure. For many citizens (44 percent) the effort to sell the used things is too high. If you wanted to get rid of them, they gave them away or just threw them away.
According to the survey, respondents see the main advantage of buying used goods as the opportunity to save money. But the conservation of resources is also important to many, significantly more women than men. The trend was apparently reinforced by Corona. Around 62 percent of those surveyed stated that they acted “at least partially” more sustainably than before. In order to be able to use products for longer or to be able to sell them more easily as second-hand goods, around half of the respondents would like easily accessible repair networks and more collection points for used goods.
The Berlin Senate sees great potential in this sector for the capital with its around 3.8 million inhabitants – there has been the “Re-Use Berlin” initiative since 2018, which promotes the reuse of used products. According to the study, 13 percent of Berliners know the project, almost half of them say that as a result of the initiative, they actually buy used more often. The “Re-Use Superstore” set up in 2020 in the Karstadt department store on Hermannplatz and the second-hand store “NochMall” in the Reinickendorf district are known by ten percent, and the “Re-Use Center” on Alexanderplatz by five percent. There is still a lot to be done here. Because 76 percent stated that they did not yet know any of the houses mentioned.
The Berlin State Secretary for the Environment, Stefan Tidow, announced that the re-use initiative would be expanded. They want to build a repair network and increase the number of collection points for used goods at the recycling yards. This would close ecological material cycles, save resources – “and thus also harmful greenhouse gas emissions”. Interesting in this context: The current study showed that Berliners already dispose of their old products less frequently (43 percent) than German citizens as a whole (50 percent).