Dr. Eri Amasawa

Assistant Professor

The University of Tokyo

Dr. Eri Amasawa was born and raised in Tsukuba, a science city of Japan. She developed her interest in environmental problems when she moved to the United States at the age of fourteen. Her pursuit of interest in the environment continued, and she chose Materials Science and Engineering major at the University of Washington to acquire knowledge and skills to solve environmental problems through technological development. After years of involvement in various environmental projects, she came to realize that while environmental issues are essentially physical, their solutions are highly political. Consequently, she decided to move back to Japan, and pursue her doctoral degree in Sustainability Science. Currently, she works as an Assistant Professor at The University of Tokyo, where her research interests include environmental impact assessment of emerging technology, framework development for sustainable consumption and production, and investigation of sustainable consumer behavior.

Environmental impact assessment of sharing economy from life cycle perspective

In this research, we explored the potential of sharing economy in reducing the environmental impact of consumption and production activities from the perspective of life cycle thinking. The way we consume products and services are rapidly diversifying with the recent development of sharing economy, and the phenomena have the potential to drive the conventional ownership-based consumption activities toward environmental and economic sustainability. However, the definition of sharing economy is often obscured, which poses challenges to understand the characteristics of the decisive factors on their environmental impact. To clarify the environmental potential of sharing economy, we conducted an analysis based on literature survey and media accounts, and performed a number of case studies on operating business models. Specifically, we examined business models of automobiles, washing machines, and books, where we computed the environmental impact in terms of global warming potential. As a result, quantitative evidence of the environmental sustainability of sharing economy was identified under specific scenarios for each product studied. In other words, the mode of environmentally sound sharing economy is distinct depending on the product and their business model. Future analysis includes generalization of the relationship between product groups and their environmental sharing mode.