How materials marketplaces contribute to the Circular Economy

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Second-hand marketplaces are places – often online – where people can meet to buy, sell, or trade essentially anything secondary: products that have been pre-used, pre-owned, or remanufactured, or materials that are left-overs or by-products of a production.

Such marketplaces can take many forms. They can be a raw materials trading platform, like, where suppliers of residuals and recycled raw materials meet to trade amongst themselves on the website. Or, they can be a second-hand clothing store, like United Wardrobe, where used (or what the industry likes to call pre-loved) clothing is offered at a discounted price. They can also be a part of a broader online marketplace, such as eBay, which allows vendors to offer both used and new products.

The ways in which online second-hand marketplaces do good are manifold – however, they all boil down into three main benefits, which are that buying a used product provides monetary benefits for both buyer and seller, retains the value of things within the economy, and is better for the environment. The way in which these markets contribute to a circular economy, however, is in their facilitation of the circular economy value of ‘zero waste, one hundred percent value retention.’ This blog is here to explain how exactly it does this.

MaterialTrader is an expample of  second hand materials  marketplaces
MaterialTrader is an online marketplace for second-hand materials, scrap, and residuals.

Benefit #1 – Monetary benefits for buyer and seller

Second-hand marketplaces allow individuals to profit from the link between waste and resource. For the sellers, selling their second-hand item allows them to make profit out of something that they normally would make no profit from if they had thrown it away or sent it to recycling as per usual. For the buyers, buying a second-hand item means that they can get a still-functioning product for a fraction of the price.

Benefit #2 – Retains value within economy

As these secondary products and materials are given a chance to see another day, their useful life is extended and thus their value and worth is retained within the economic system. This is part of the core value of the circular economy.

Immediately sending something to recycling once one owner is finished with it is better than throwing it away, but doing so rather than giving it a chance for reuse disposes of a huge amount of its value – as it is then no longer functional as a whole product, only as the materials it is made of. The same principle applies to raw materials: a left-over material from a production process may bring more usefulness to another industry by being traded or sold online as is. This article explains more about why recycling should always be the last option in a truly circular economy.

Benefit #3 – Better for the environment

When a product is reused by another person, it saves on the amount of materials and water needed to produce a new product that would have otherwise been bought in place of the second-hand one. For example, it takes approximately 6,814 litres of water to make one pair of jeans. That means that 6,814 litres of water are potentially saved by buying a pair of jeans second hand rather than brand new at the store.

Zero waste, one hundred percent value retention.

Buying second-hand also reduces the amount of pollution that is leaked into our land, air, and water during the production of the product and the materials it is made out of. It has been reported that each year industries leak 10 million tonnes of toxic manufacture waste into our environment. Second hand markets contribute to a reduction of this waste, as well as a reduction of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly. In fact, Schibsted reported that second-hand trading saves the environment from 16.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Finally, selling and not dumping cuts down on the amount of stuff ending up in landfills. In general, as the habit of reselling or trading used goods and materials becomes popular and commonplace, waste and the tendency towards wastefulness is reduced. This satisfies the other half of the circular mantra, ‘zero waste.’

Want to be part of the solution?

You can start right here, by trading your materials with us. Our marketplace can be found on

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