Can the sharing economy actually help the planet?

With the growing scarcity of raw materials coupled with the increasing pressures for skills, services, housing, and other spaces, the sharing economy is increasingly seen as an appealing solution to the challenges we face in cities. But how sustainable is the sharing economy? Does it fulfil its promises of improving resource productivity, reducing CO2 emissions and minimising waste?

Most notable sharing economy platforms include Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit and Borrow My Doggy. The basic principle behind sharing economy or collaborative consumption models is the idea that if we can ‘share’ or ‘borrow’ resources from each other, we can increase the amount of value we receive from these resources, increasing resource efficiency and productivity. 

Back in December 2016, we launched Share Peterborough, becoming the first UK city to develop a B2B resource sharing platform. Allowing organisations to share unused and under-utilised resources, the online platform aims to ensure that we are making the most of the resources that we have in the city. This includes products and equipment, as well as spaces and people’s skills. Enabling an organisation to find value in another organisation’s ‘waste’ intends to directly contribute to improving resource efficiency and productivity, whilst minimising waste in the city. 

Our existing success stories on the Share Peterborough platform suggest that there are real social, economic and environmental benefits from the sharing economy. Recent success stories include Peterborough City Council donating a number of unused desk fans to a local hospice, Thorpe Hall Sue Ryder Hospice; a local stationery company (Walters Ltd) providing an under-utilised conference room to a number of businesses in the city; the sharing of conference exhibition equipment between local organisations; and Coca Cola European Partners offering telephone equipment they no longer needed to other organisations in exchange for a small donation to charity.

Sharing economy platforms, whereby monetary transactions take place, are often criticised for not being genuinely part of the ‘sharing’ economy. In Peterborough, we’re working hard to create a real sharing ethos across the city, in which organisations can share skills, knowledge, spaces, products and other under-utilised assets free of charge. We’ve recently made the platform accessible to schools and community organisations, ensuring that the benefits are extended beyond the businesses community. We’re aiming to create a vibrant online sharing community, connecting a diverse range of organisations with each other.

So can the sharing economy actually help the planet? Yes, we believe that sharing economy models, such as Share Peterborough, put people and the planet at the heart of the local economy. In the case of Share Peterborough, the platform fosters collaboration between organisations and creates social value, whilst promoting more sustainable resource use through facilitating opportunities to share, reuse and repurpose a number of different assets. Through sharing resources, you can help care for local communities and the planet. To maximise the positive impacts of the Share Peterborough platform, we need more businesses and other organisations in the city to get involved.

If you’re a local Peterborough organisation you can join the platform for free and start sharing, swapping and saving today: .

Contact: Katie Thomas, Circular Economy Project Officer
Phone: 01733 317417