eBay Foundation shapes CircularFutures with Ashoka

eBay.org Team

eBay’s Hanne Melin joins the leadership collaboratory to deepen the company’s circular economy practice

eBay’s Hanne Melin thinks a lot about the future of commerce. In her role as director, eBay Legal Counsel, and a member of eBay’s Public Policy Lab, Hanne focuses on researching, socializing and communicating policy innovations at the intersection of technology, commerce and entrepreneurship.

One of the topics she’s been thinking a lot about recently is the impact that emergent digital technologies, like the Internet of Things, will have on small business retailers and consumers.

“What does this mean for ownership and the ability for individuals to repair and resell things?” said Hanne. “Will the shift in commerce toward digital impair our ability to resell and repurpose products?”

For more than two decades, eBay has been enabling everyone to contribute to the circular economy through its global marketplace. As people and things become more connected through technology, manufacturers are beginning to shift to new service-based models, where they maintain ownership of the products and instead sell the use. Yet the world is filled with individuals and entrepreneurs that have carved their own business niche out of repurposing and reselling products.

Ashoka HanneMelin 2

“The risk is that the circular economy is only something companies do. If citizens can’t repurpose and resell products themselves, they become passive consumers rather than participants in the circular economy,” said Hanne.

This is one of the issues Hanne keeps top of mind as she collaborates with 29 other changemakers in the CircularFutures program. This six-month Ashoka Leadership Development Program, co-created with the eBay Foundation, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and other creation partners, works to address the question: How might we transform the consumer goods industry to build economic, natural and social capital and be less wasteful, more restorative and resilient?

CircularFutures provides a focused forum where participants can interact within a network of diverse thinkers, pioneers, and practitioners from across various disciplines to help design better projects, scale the work, and create more impact.

The program kicked off in Amsterdam in September and the group convenes monthly for learning and collaboration work sessions to champion system change and new approaches to leadership focused on the circular economy. 

“I’m fascinated by system thinking—and how we effect change in these systems,” said Hanne. “CircularFutures will help me with ideas and inputs for projects—thinking about how we at eBay can do much more than just selling and reselling. Can we take eBay further into circular economy practice?”