Circular economy

Second hand market, a €18 billion turnover in Italy

Questo post è disponibile anche in: Italian

After the sharing economy, here comes the second hand economy: GDP increases by 1% and 300 thousand tons of waste are saved every year.

They call it “second hand economy”: it is the market of second hand goods, that once was considered as a secondary form of economy, good only for those who could not afford brand new products, and later became a fancy niche field with the label of “vintage”. Today, this market is rightfully considered as one of the pillars of the circular economy: an economy where nothing is thrown away, to help both the environment and the citizens’ pockets. In Italy alone, this market is worth about €18 billion, almost the equivalent of 1% of the GDP.

Perhaps it started because of the economic crisis, or because of a higher environmental awareness. Either way, next to the sharing economy – which allows to share services and products such as bikes or a car ride – today the second hand economy has come back to new life.

Doxa conducted a survey for Subito, one of the main Italian second hand selling and buying websites: according to the results, half of Italians below 45 years of age buy second hands good, generating a turnover of €18 billion. This is all thanks to the internet, where 38% of exchanges take place, for a total of €6.8 billion.

Just like in the case of the sharing economy, the second hand economy – still a relatively unknown field with little rules – was noticed by the UNO. Second hand operators gathered in an association called Rete O.N.U., and organized a conference by the name of “The added value of second hand goods in the circular economy” in the Italian Parliament. The initiative involves institutions, authorities and associations to discuss the future of the reusing sector.

Augusto Lacala, president of Rete O.N.U., asserted that “while waiting for the entry of the environmental bill into force, we are noticing a very positive attitude towards a field that was invisible until not long ago, although in Europe it is considered as one of the pillars of the circular economy.”

“The environmental and employment contribution guaranteed by this sector, although not recognized or sponsored – insisted Sebastiano Marinaccio, the vice-president of Rete O.N.U. – could be doubled by removing a few normative obstacles that limit its development. This sector is able to save 300,000 tons/year waste from landfills, and with correct training, the field of reusing could manage to save up to 650,000 tons of waste per year, the equivalent of over 1,300 billion in the field of preparation for reuse, in addition to 15,000 new jobs, almost 22.9 operators for 1000 tons”.

Antonio Conti, the spokesperson of Rete O.N.U., underlined that this sector needs clear rules in order to best express its potential. “Today for the first time we reached a unanimous agreement on Rete O.N.U. proposals. This agreement needs to turn into real change for the second hand market operators as soon as possible. This means more jobs, a greater contribution for the environment, a higher protection of weak social groups and a greater economic development.”

For more information about the proposals of Rete O.N.U., click here.

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