Use-PSS rebound: Carbon footprint reduction potential of clothing rental subscription with consideration of direct economic rebound effect

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Use-oriented Product Service Systems for clothing (e.g. rental subscription) are hoped as a sustainable fashion consumption, while the risk of increased consumption of facilitation of wear offsetting their environmental benefit (i.e. direct rebound effect) has been overlooked in Life Cycle Assessment studies. Based on literature and using system dynamics as a conceptual virtual laboratory, this study analyzes the market-mediated potential of rental subscription for women’s dress to reduce annual carbon footprint, through simulations of what-if scenarios under various consumer behavior and PSS membership designs. Results show that; 1) unlimited swaps based on flat monthly fees entail higher rebound risks than charging for each swap under limited monthly swaps and items, 2) increased wash frequency could compromise rental garment lifespans and jeopardize their environmental potential, even more so when amplified by rebound, and 3) multiple wears of dress per user can significantly reduce the above risks. Findings highlight the need for empirical research of the direct economic rebound and the effect of wash frequency on rental garment lifespan. Recommendations are to; 1) apply public incentives only to PSS charging for each swap under limited monthly swaps and items and 2) enhance the unique attractiveness of PSS rather than its price competitiveness.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen