We’ve often been told that the rules of the playground will groom us for the outside world and a look into the current socio-economic ecosystem of the ‘Shared Economy’, is all the proof we need.

Bringing in more than $500 million to NSW in 2015, the idea of ‘sharing is caring’ is taking Australia by storm, drastically changing the way we consume our goods and services.

This series of posts will leave no rock unturned. Stay tuned to learn all there is to know about the shared economy.

Thinking of launching your own share economy platform, LawPath can connect you with a Startup Lawyer for a fixed-price.

What is a Shared Economy?

Also known as collaborative consumption or a peer economy, a shared economy is a system, built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.

Companies such as AirBnb and Uber are at the forefront of the shared economy in Australia; AirBnB reaching over 80 million bookings in 2015, while Uber is doubling its revenue every 6 months. Technology and app-sharing platforms have reduced transaction costs, making sharing cheaper and easier than ever.

Who are the Big Players?

We’ve all heard of Uber and Airbnb, but here are some other platforms to look out for:

  • Airtasker: Lazy? Join this task sharing service.
  • GoGet: Car sharing service.
  • MadPaws: A pet sitting service.
  • Kickstarter: Funding and support to ‘kickstart’ your creative projects.
  • Oz Recycle: Gift your unwanted things – Get free stuff while helping the environment!
  • Parking Made Easy: Shared parking spaces, garages and driveways.

Is it Legal?

As a result of rapid growth and limited liability on the part of these shared platforms, legislation is struggling to keep up. Earlier this year, the NSW government announced that it will create a framework for regulation of the shared economy.

NSW Innovation Minister Victor Dominello has expressed commitment to the collaborative economy and assured that the government will step in if there are consumer protection issues in place – however, many are calling for federal regulation.

For example, UberX has recently become legalised in NSW and ACT. However it remains banned in Victoria and South Australia. This sort of inconsistency may be likely to stifle the growth of this economy, and in response, the Labor government has developed a set of National Sharing Economy Principles, which would apply a fair and flexible set rules nation-wide.

The gaps between old laws and new ways of doing business are widening, and a combination of tax regulation, fair-trading, and competition and consumer protection issues are placing stress on the federal government to act now.

Positive effects on the Environment

Put simply, the shift in attitude from owning to sharing means we use fewer resources and as a result have less impact on the planet.

This concept of sharing has brought about a decrease in commercialisation and a trend in sustainable consumption. TheAssets.co has found that 80% of the things in our homes are used less than once a month and self-storage has increased by 1000% over the past three decades. Renting may also enable a reduction in the demand and consumption for goods, with the application of the basic concept of recycling.

Ride and vehicle sharing initiatives such as GoGet, Uber and Car Next Door, are taking cars off the roads, reducing carbon emission drastically. Figures have shown that a single shared car will take 7 cars off the road. AirBnB has claimed that in a year, its guests have avoided greenhouse gas emissions comparable to 33,000 cars and saved the equivalent of enough water to fill 270 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Want to learn more? Read Part II of our series to find out how to join the economy and tips to consider if you do.

Sharlene Han

Sharlene is a paralegal at LawPath that works on our content team, which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. In accordance to her belief that the law should be accessible by all, her writing focuses on trending topics in both the legal and technological spheres.