Konsum 4.0: Wie die Digitalisierung den Konsum verändert – Trendbericht zur Abschätzung der Umweltwirkungen

Die Zukunft im Blick: Konsum 4.0 - Wie die Digitalisierung den Konsum verändert
Kahlenborn, Walter; Benno Keppner, Christian Uhle, Stephan Richter und Tobias Jetzke 2018: Konsum 4.0: Wie die Digitalisierung den Konsum verändert. Trendbericht zur Abschätzung der Umweltwirkungen. Dessau-Roßlau: Umweltbundesamt.

Translated title: Konsum 4.0: How digitalisation is changing comsumption

Digitalisation is increasingly shaping aspects of daily life. The terms industry 4.0 and trade 4.0 describe the effects and potential of digitalisation for industry and trade and have already been discussed in detail.  A research project for the Federal Environment Agency on Consumption 4.0 is investigating the consequences of digitalisation on consumption while assessing resulting environmental impacts and developing starting points for environmental policy. In addition, the project is considering aspects of Consumption 4.0 including instant shopping, consumer influence, digitally active consumers, green mobile apps, augmented/mixed and virtual reality, and digitised payments. The main results are as follows:

Throughout almost all areas, the increasing energy intensity of the information and communication system and the growing consumption of resources from ICT infrastructures act as a burden on the environment. Whether in digital payment methods, the use of mobile devices in purchasing decisions, access to exchange platforms, the use of 3D glasses or the collection of usage data, the volume of data streams and computing power is increasing and end-used devices are used more frequently and for longer periods.

From the analysis of digitised payment, instant shopping, consumer influence, and the use of AR, MR and VR, it has emerged that consumption 4.0 is associated with strong consumption forces. In addition, the all-encompassing and constantly available range of consumer and purchasing information is likely to raise the general level of consumption.

In addition to the various drivers that cause consumption levels to rise, an opposite effect has also occurred: consumption 4.0 enables dematerialisation and more sustainable consumption. Virtual realities can be used in various areas to transform and partially replace conventional products and services. Similarly, exchange and sharing platforms allow existing goods to be used more efficiently and for longer periods. Assessment platforms and Green Apps can promote sustainable consumption decisions.