What if everyone becomes a sharer? A quantification of the environmental impact of access-based consumption for household laundry activities
Journal article, 2020

In order to meet the EU's climate and resource efficiency targets, changes in our daily-life behaviours, as well as business models, are urgently necessary. More insights are needed to make real changes based on research with a systems perspective. We developed a system dynamics model to analyse the environmental benefits of a transition from ownership-based to access-based household laundry activities. The model considers demographic, technological and behavioural aspects and thereby assesses the environmental impact of laundry activities. The model is applied to the Swedish as well as the European context and allows cross-country comparisons. The results indicate a significant potential of the sharing economy. The higher utilisation of shared machines and extended lifespans of the machines can cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third and lower raw material usage overall and lower primary raw material in production due to higher recycling rates. The carbon intensity of the energy mix is a crucial factor for the environmental consequences that arise through changes in energy usage due to sharing economy practices. This case study shows the value of adopting policies that could promote sharing and extended life spans.

Environmental impact analysis

Washing machine

System dynamics

Sharing economy

Access-based consumption


Raphael Wasserbaur

Linköping University

Tomohiko Sakao

Linköping University

Maria Ljunggren Söderman

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Andrius Plepys

Lund University

Carl Dalhammar

Lund University

Resources, Conservation and Recycling

0921-3449 (ISSN)

Vol. 158 104780

Subject Categories

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Management

Energy Systems



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