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Tool sharing platforms and sustainability: Environmental implications and life cycle management of sharing services
Collaborative consumption has been promoted as an important step in transforming consumption patterns toward more sustainable consumption and production practices. Expectations of the sharing economy are generally positive, though few studies have analyzed the environmental implications of sharing services. This study aims to analyze the potential environmental impacts of a product sharing platform (rental box system) for gardening tools by a leading Swedish manufacturer, Husqvarna. Furthermore, the study follows the life cycle management practices from the producer to develop more sustainable solutions based on pilot studies and a developing proof of concept. We employ life cycle assessment to review the environmental performance of the sharing service compared to traditional linear consumption models. Furthermore, we employ life cycle management concepts to review the development, progress and knowledge production in-house to develop and improve the platform based on consumer reviews and sustainability information. Results suggest that the sharing platform can have significant environmental benefits compared to linear consumption models. The results also identify important aspects for the environmental impacts of the system, include the location of rental system, transportation method for renting the products, maintenance and models used to ensure availability of batteries; showing their sensitivity in the modelling. Above all the functional unit chosen for the assessment is of importance for comparing circular and linear models is of utmost importance. The study also follows the development of the sharing service offered by Husqvarna and the business models, production, sourcing and changes to the system implemented toward more sustainable practices. The results and mapping provide an important addition to the LCA and LCM literature for circular business models.