Mercari Experiments

Making Reuse the New Normal: Dispose Less With the Mercari Ecobox

  • Reuse
Mercari Experiments

Project overview

At Mercari, we aim to create a circular economy that makes the most of the world’s finite resources.
We want to contribute to resolving environmental issues not only by encouraging and supporting the reuse of various goods, but also by making consumer activities more sustainable through our business.

In a survey we conducted in 20211, we found that around 75.6% of the respondents were choosing to throw away things they no longer use. This was a 1.8% decline from the same survey conducted the previous fiscal year2, and we are seeing this percentage decline year by year. In addition, we found that of the respondents who said they throw away items that can still be used when they have no use for them, 82% of people said they felt that this behavior was wasteful.

  • Given these results, we wanted to find a way to help people move away from disposing of the usable items they no longer have use for, and that’s when we came up with the Mercari Ecobox—a simple place for people to keep their items that is separate from their closet or the trash.
    By developing the Mercari Ecobox, we wanted to change the mindset people have when they're deciding whether to throw something away in order to help foster more sustainable habits.

    1: From a survey conducted through a research company in July 2021 targeting the general public (Respondents: 3,098 people)
    2: From a survey conducted through a research company in June 2020 targeting the general public (Respondents: 2,400 people)


What is the Mercari Ecobox?

  • The Mercari Ecobox is a place for people to temporarily store and periodically look over the clothes, books, trinkets, dishes, and other items they no longer use but cannot bring themselves to throw away as trash.

    Our idea is for people to start using the Mercari Ecobox to store any usable items they no longer use. Then, they can revisit the contents now and then, and choose to sell items or give things away to people who need them. Creating this habit will gradually make it the norm for people to find ways to reuse items instead of throwing them away, and it will bring us one step closer to realizing a circular economy.

    We launched this initiative for real-world experimentation on Zero Waste Day (May 30) 2022, in Gamagori City, Aichi Prefecture, and Kamo City, Niigata Prefecture, to test its effectiveness in establishing a mindset of reuse and promoting more sustainable behavior among the cities’ residents. The initiative was then launched in Ehime Prefecture and Okayama City in April 2023, and launched simultaneously in 23 municipalities in November 2023.

    Currently, our society sorts trash into categories assuming that all items in the trash are to be thrown away. However, through this Mercari Ecobox initiative, we hope to promote an alternative category to burnable and non-burnable trash—by getting people to consider the option of reuse, we aim to ultimately bring about a culture where people are reducing waste and using things for longer.

Experiment method

  • ・May 2022: Starting on May 30 (Zero Waste Day), we launched our “Mercari Ecobox” initiative for real-world experimentation, giving out 300 boxes per city to the residents of Gamagori City, Aichi Prefecture, and Kamo City, Niigata Prefecture
    ・April 2023: In collaboration with The Nippon Foundation, we gave out 5,000 Mercari Ecoboxes each in Ehime Prefecture and Okayama City
    ・November 2023: In collaboration with The Nippon Foundation, we began giving out a total of 15,300 Mercari Ecoboxes across 23 municipalities

  • Survey results
    According to the results of a survey of the users of the Mercari Ecobox, 82.4% of respondents answered that the box was useful, and 74% of respondents placed their unneeded items in the box, of whom 55% reused items in the box, proving that the Mercari Ecobox has contributed to promoting reuse.