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eBay Pioneering Circular Commerce and Sustainability


eBay brand image via deptagency.com

eBay is a global e-commerce company that connects millions of buyers and sellers through its online marketplace platforms. Founded in 1995 and headquartered in San Jose, California, eBay enables commerce in over 190 markets with over 147 million active buyers worldwide. In 2022, eBay handled $74 billion in transaction volume on its platforms. The company operates the eBay.com marketplace along with localized sites in various countries, as well as eBay's suite of mobile apps. eBay earns fees through commissions from sales occurring via auctions or instant "Buy It Now" transactions on its platforms without owning any inventory.


Renewable Energy Leadership

As part of its commitment to sustainability, eBay has set ambitious renewable energy goals. The company aims to source 100% renewable electricity for all eBay-controlled data centers and offices by 2025. 


Jamie Iannone, CEO - eBay

In a 2022 Letter to Stockholders published on Linkedin CEO, Jamie Iannone, stated that “a large part of our purpose lies in helping shape a more sustainable future for both our global community and the planet.  We are committed to helping create a healthier planet for our community and for generations to come. We’re investing in clean energy, with a goal to source 100% renewable energy by 2025 — and we’re already almost three quarters of the way there through power purchase agreements, renewable energy certificates and local green energy programs.” The result of these efforts is that as of 2022 eBay sources 91.2% of its consumed electricity from renewable sources.  Notably, the company's San Jose headquarters along with other offices has been running on 100% renewable electricity through a green power program with the municipal utility.  To reach this point eBay has accelerated its work since 2020. “Over the past year, we have committed to new climate actions in our efforts to understand and lessen our environmental impact as a company,' said eBay's Chief Sustainability Officer Renee Morin


Renée Morin, CSO - eBay

As far back as 2019 Morin has established that “eBay is committed to improving our environmental footprint while supporting a more inclusive, sustainable, and circular economy. That is why we are actively working toward our goal to use 100 percent renewable energy in our electricity supply by 2025 at our data centers and our offices—and also why eBay supports policy action to help us tackle climate change.“


Having reached these milestones according to Iannone, eBay will “constantly strive to find ways to further strengthen our corporate responsibility goals as we work toward creating a healthier planet for all.”


Ongoing Renewables Commitment

As it moves forward, eBay will need to procure more renewable energy in order to reach its 100% renewable electricity target on time.  However, the company acknowledges rising energy demand as a risk if business growth outpaces renewable energy supply.  Additionally, searching for long term renewable energy projects like the VPPAs they’ve committed to in Texas and Louisiana will be time consuming, complex and costly.  


What lies ahead is an opportunity, particularly knowing that much of their procured renewables, 289,322 MWh, comes from unbundled RECs. To strengthen both its emission reduction strategies and its sustainability claims, eBay could incorporate RECs with additionality into its renewable energy planning.


RECs with additionality would fund new renewable energy projects, providing additionality just like the attributes from their VPPAs.  RECs with additionality would also accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. With fixed forward pricing for additionality RECs, this would mitigate the costs and supply constraints that may emerge over time if eBay continues to utilize RECs from existing renewable generation.


The improved sustainability claim should not be overlooked here.  By procuring additionality RECs, eBay would also be able to document that it’s doing more than just matching electricity use with renewable energy purchases.  eBay would credibly be able to state that its operations actively help deploy specific new clean power projects.


In conclusion, as the pioneer of circular commerce, eBay is clearly leading the way in sustainable e-commerce. Its renewable energy commitments and circular economy model offer a template for other businesses aiming to profitably embrace the green economy. Maintaining momentum on these fronts can help eBay achieve emission reductions at the pace and scale required to meet its ambitious climate goals.

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