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Reuse now a way of life

Americans spent US$ 140 billion (EUR 141 billion) on second-hand goods last year and the total resale market grew by 53% during the past five years. Resale growth is expected to outpace regular retail sector growth.

‘By 2030, we expect that will increase by 154% to US$ 354 billion,’ says John Lagerling, ceo of online marketplace Mercari. He observes that recycling and buying organic or ethically sourced products was once a niche behaviour but it has now become a way of life. ‘

We feel the same way about reused goods, especially electronics,’ the entrepreneur adds. The latter segment witnessed sales of US$ 27.5 billion in 2021, followed by apparel at US$ 26.5 billion. Interestingly, the automotive market is also seeing an increase in sales of second-hand parts and components, coming in at US$ 5.9 billion.

Mercari says unused items collecting dust in US homes are worth up to US$ 23.5 billion. Per household, this equates to roughly 180 items with a total value of around US$ 4 500. Lagerling notes that the US still spends US$ 4.5 billion on disposal each year. ‘Around 1.6 billion items fit for resale are thrown away annually.’

Better news is that 2.4 billion items were donated to charities, while another 2.4 billion items were sold online using a second-hand marketplace and 2.3 billion were gifted to friends or family members. Recent surveys suggest US consumers are more likely to extend the lifecycle of products in future; upwards of 75% of consumers are expected to buy at least one second-hand item in 2023. 

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