Field: Sharing economy, Sustainable consumption, Waste reduction
Global Technical function: Online sharing
Technical Function Unit: Networking, Public grant funding for demonstration
Geographic Area: Finland, Germany, United Kingdom

Online tool for sharing, swapping and selling abandoned products

Netcycler is an innovative networking website for online sharing, swapping and selling products within the Netcycler community. Members can list items (electronics, toys, clothes, kitchen items, furniture etc.) for free sharing, barter trade or selling. 

The challenge

Many products are only used for a short period by consumers. Thereafter, the products remain in consumer homes or are abandoned to be dumped with waste. The website Netcycler began based on a sharing economy business model which provides consumers with an attractive trading solution for old items. The service enables products to be traded for other goods without the need to buy anything new, thus contributing to waste reduction.

The innovation

Netcycler’s online sharing tool offers several options for members to trade at the website using their products as currency. They can offer their unwanted items for free, trade them for items they want or just sell them for cash. Items can be browsed and searched by offer-types such as free items, those listed for swapping, or for sale. Users can find their wishes by item name, location, colour etc. The online tool builds automatic trade-rings when a member sets a sales price on an item. This sales price is ‘echoed’ to all other items in the ring, which can be bought for the same price. NetcycerEchoTM thus multiplies swopping opportunities as buyers can choose to swop their good for any item offered by any person in the automatically created five-member trade-ring. Trade-rings make successful swaps more likely to occur. With its large membership-base and resulting growing share of the online swapping and sharing trade, Netcycler makes a positive contribution towards collaborative and sustainable consumption.

Why did it work?

Netcycler received grant funding for demonstration from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, as well as from the Finnish Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. At present, the website operation is financed by providing additional services such as a postal service. This innovative tool emerged from the need to promote a culture of sharing consumer items no longer needed instead of throwing them away.

Further deployment

Netcycler has independent websites for Germany, the United Kingdom and Finland. Such business models are also being used in many economic sectors such as agriculture (land-sharing) and mobility (car-sharing) etc. Thus the maturity of this model of eco-innovation is estimated to be beyond 9 on the GML scale.

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