Environmental gains from more second-hand trading in Rotterdam. How can the municipality encourage this?

Climate policies focus mainly on energy and transport, and much less on food and products. Despite this, on average 33% of the climate emissions of the inhabitants of the Netherlands are caused by goods, including clothing, mainly due to the emissions associated with the raw materials and materials for production. This amounts to about 50 Mtonnes of CO2 for all 17 million Dutch citizens. For all inhabitants of Rotterdam, this amounts to 1.8 Mtonnes of CO2.

Extending the lifespan of goods through second-hand trade is an important option to reduce environmental pressure. For this reason, the municipality of Rotterdam asked CE Delft to investigate options for encouraging second-hand trade in the municipality.

For this study, we performed environmental impact calculations for quantities of goods and waste, and conducted interviews with many relevant parties. We also organized a workshop to gather ideas on how to boost second-hand trade.

To promote all the steps involved in second-hand trade and incentivize the actors, we have systematically analysed everything that could go well in second-hand trade as well as everything that could go wrong.

Crucial success factors are: quality, supply, convenience, reliability, affordability, familiarity and a good image.

There is still significant potential since a large proportion of goods in good condition are not offered for reuse, incineration or recycling, and because a large number of consumers do not even consider buying second-hand for many purchases. Conservatively, a 4.5-fold increase is certainly possible. In Rotterdam, this would save 300 ktonnes of CO2 emissions a year. For the whole of the Netherlands, this potential is about 25 times larger and totals about 7 Mtonnes of CO2.

The report contains a large number of suggestions that municipalities can use to facilitate and encourage second-hand trade, since much that can be achieved in Rotterdam is also relevant to other municipalities.

This report follows on from an earlier analysis for of the environmental gains that facilitates with its website. The environmental benefit of Marktplaats trading – CE Delft