Enabling Circular Automotive Parts

Sustainability impacts, business benefits and value chain strategy.

eBay has been making great progress on its sustainability journey – with a range of important initiatives, including a serious commitment to the circular economy. Through the scale of its reach, eBay’s platform can help improve the sustainability impacts for millions of customers, by encouraging responsible consumption and keeping used and refurbished products in use – helping to avoid millions of tonnes of embedded carbon emissions associated with the production and consumption of new products.

eBay’s Vehicle Parts and Accessories team had understood, intuitively, that every time a vehicle part is reused, there should be significant savings in embodied carbon emissions, resulting from the avoidance of manufacturing new automotive parts. Imagine the total impact delivered, scaling up across the entire portfolio of around one million used and refurbished parts sold each year in the UK!

The question was, what level of savings in net emissions would be experienced through this scale of activity, while fully accounting for process emissions? And, recognising that ‘carbon’ is not the only issue, what level of further environmental, social and economic benefits could be quantified?

Earthshine Group was appointed to assist eBay in meeting this crucial challenge, with a focus on four project goals:

  • Assess CO2 savings associated with eBay’s reused and refurbished vehicle parts value chain.
  • Capture the broader range of sustainability impacts, in addition to carbon, including resource conservation and positive social and economic outcomes associated with product circularity.
  • Prove the benefit of eBay’s model, compared with a business-as-usual ‘linear-economy’ baseline.
  • Develop the range of potential opportunities for driving further circularity in the automotive sector, capturing even greater sustainability, commercial and customer benefits.

The results are conclusive — driving circularity delivers a range of impressive headline impacts:



Circularity (product reuse)

+4,500 tonnes

Resource conservation

-29,000 tonnes

Net reduction in carbon emissions

-2,500 MWh

Electricity savings


Skilled circular jobs & economic contributions

+760 tonnes

Plastic reuse

Bringing two worlds together

To address this fundamental challenge, we developed a ground-breaking holistic model of all key sustainability impacts and benefits for eBay’s top 115 used/refurbished parts categories sold in UK. By taking a comprehensive value chain perspective, not only were we more complete and accurate in recording emissions and scaling the real challenge, the broader level of visibility also revealed a wider range of further opportunities and benefits for eBay and its value chain partners: leading to strategies that potentially quadruple positive impacts, while delivering significant levels of new business – towards true decoupling.

Furthermore, the project goes way beyond compliance and incremental change. The whole philosophy underpinning the eCAP Project is all about ‘bending’ the value chain from a linear model towards a more circular value chain – effectively bringing two worlds together – with both progressive recyclers and vehicle manufacturers converging to create a new model, with eBay UK as the catalyst for industry change. Effectively, delivering win: win: win! It will be fascinating to see where this model goes next.

  • Earthshine led our first deep carbon footprint and social impact analysis, and were able to develop robust models and formulate recommendations we hadn’t even considered. The results have been fantastic – their industry-focused expertise helped us to capture greater value, much more quickly. We look forward to working closely with Earthshine as the automotive industry continues to evolve in meeting its sustainability and circular economy challenges.

    Laura Richards
    Senior Business Development Manager, eBay UK