Counting carbon savings of shopping second-hand

Gaurav Bhasin, Chief Strategy Officer, Carousell Group and Namrata Sandhu, Co-Founder and CEO, Vaayu
Gaurav Bhasin, Chief Strategy Officer, Carousell Group; and Namrata Sandhu, Co-Founder and CEO, Vaayu

Using insights from almost 14,000 users, across four retail categories and three key shopping platforms, a market leader in circular business has calculated the carbon emissions saved by buying second-hand.

Carousell Group, the pioneering multi-category platform for second-hand in Greater Southeast Asia, has released its inaugural Circular Economy Impact Report. The report shows that buying and selling consumer goods second-hand is a better choice for the planet compared to the traditional retail trade in new items.

Key findings of the Circular Economy Impact Report include:

  • In 2022, the Carousell Group user community avoided 116,577 tonnes of carbon emissions in four goods categories (Fashion & Luxury, Electronics, Furniture & Home Living and Hobbies & Toys) — equivalent to the amount of CO2 absorbed per year by some 5.3M trees, or roughly 76% of the total in Singapore;
  • Almost 56% of purchases on the Carousell marketplaces displaced the purchase of a new item; 
  • On average, across six key Carousell markets, 55% of surveyed users reported an increase in buying and selling of second-hand items in 2022, compared to 2021.

LCAs and AI quantify Avoided Carbon Emissions

Graphic shows range of facts and statistics around circularity of second-hand market across four retail categories in Greater Southeast Asia.

The report, a first-of-its kind for e-commerce and re-commerce marketplaces in Southeast Asia, quantifies the Avoided Carbon Emissions for users purchasing secondhand items, in place of new.

To quantify the impact, Carousell partnered with Vaayu, a European climate tech company.

Leveraging proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning technology, Vaayu is able to utilise its Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) database of over 600,000 product data points.

As the initial phase of the Carousell quantification journey, the scope of the report has focused exclusively on only the four goods categories covered by three of the Group’s marketplaces, in particular:

  • Carousell — the leading multi-category classifieds and re-commerce marketplace in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan;
  • Laku6 — the leading AI-first end-to-end electronics re-commerce platform in Indonesia; and
  • REFASH — the leading omnichannel thrift store with 20 physical outlets in Singapore and Malaysia.

Over the years to come, the Group is committed to progressively incorporating all remaining categories and integrating other Group brands, Chợ Tốt and OneShift.

More circular alignment is urgently needed, says Namrata Sandhu, Co-founder and CEO, Vaayu:

“Retail is responsible for 25% of global carbon emissions and with research continuing to show we’re not on track to keep global warming below 1.5C, we’re at a critical inflection point. Circular business models, like re-commerce, offer a clear path to reducing retail’s impact on our planet which is why we are so proud to partner with Carousell.

Sustainability benefits of every individual transaction

Besides the quantification of Avoided Emissions, the report also underscores the significance of every individual transaction in contributing to the overall circular economy impact.

For instance, buying a second-hand sofa on Carousell can, on average, save up to 131kg of CO2e, the equivalent of almost six trees absorbing CO2 per year.

As part of the Carousell Group goal to build future growth in demand for second-hand, its marketplaces have also been rolling out a variety of re-commerce programmes and features across multiple platforms.

Going green needs to easy, says Quek Siu Rui, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Carousell Group:

“Our mission is to make second-hand the first choice for everyone. We have stayed true to this over the past 11 years, and remain committed to making selling and buying second-hand even simpler, more trusted and convenient.

With the release of the report, we hope more people realise how easy it is to embrace second-hand as a lifestyle and contribute to a greener world, without compromising on the things they enjoy.”

Millions of users and backed by leading investors

Carousell Group is the leading multi-category platform for second-hand in Greater Southeast Asia. Founded in 2012 in Singapore, the Group has a leading presence in seven markets under the brands Carousell, Carousell Media Group, Cho Tot, Laku6,, OneShift, REFASH and Revo Financial.

Serving tens of millions of monthly active users, Carousell is backed by leading investors including Telenor Group, Rakuten Ventures, Naver, STIC Investments, 500 Global and Peak XV Partners.

Circular business models and product footprints

Vaayu is the world’s first automated software empowering brands and businesses within the retail ecosystem to track and cut their carbon and environmental impact in real-time.

By leveraging proprietary AI and machine-learning technology, Vaayu calculates impacts like emissions, water and waste across product, packaging and logistics using certified LCA methodology to provide granular insights and inform data-driven decision-making.

Through global partnerships, Vaayu has pioneered research into the climate impact potential of circular business models, working not only with Carousell, but also Vinted and Otrium.

Arming businesses and millions of consumers with robust impact data to guide more sustainable consumption, Vaayu has also calculated product footprints for the likes of Klarna and Redcare Pharmacy.

The partnership with Carousell Group marks the expansion of Vaayu’s expertise into Asia. 

Further Reading:

Check out the full archive of stories on the SustMeme Circular Economy Channel, Sponsored by Dow.