Resource Efficiency

Resource efficiency addresses the sustainable use of natural resources – from raw materials to food, water, air and ecosystems – as the base for a change in the EU’s economic model. It is seen as key to securing growth and jobs for Europe. Its aim is to bring major economic opportunities, improve productivity, drive down costs and boost competitiveness in the EU.

The EU's growth strategy for this decade – the so-called Europe 2020 Strategy  – sets five ambitious objectives on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy to be reached by 2020. The Europe 2020 Strategy aims at  smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

In January 2011, the Flagship Initiative for a Resource-efficient Europe was issued under this strategy. This umbrella communication sets out a long-term framework that promotes the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy to achieve sustainable growth.

Resource Efficiency Roadmap

The Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (COM(2011) 571) sets out a framework of policies and actions in order to increase resource productivity and decouple economic growth from the use of resources and its environmental impact by 2050. It also includes milestones to be reached by 2020, which will show the path to resource efficient and sustainable growth.

The Roadmap proposes to change the economic model by:

  1.   Changing consumption patterns
  2.   Promoting more efficient production
  3.   Managing waste as a resource
  4.   Stimulating research and innovation
  5.   Phasing out inefficient subsidies that harm the environment
  6.   Shifting taxation from labour to environmental impact 

Having the highest environmental impact, the food, construction and transport sectors are specifically addressed in the Roadmap. In the same way, minerals, energy, water, land and ecosystem services, including inter-linkages between resources and the possible use of waste as a resource are identified as key resources, which are analysed from a life-cycle and value-chain point of view.

Resource Efficiency Indicators

The Resource Efficiency Roadmap foresees the development of indicators to quantify and monitor the progress towards sustainable development through life cycle thinking, which should show how the overall environmental impact of resource use is related to the overall economic growth. These indicators aim to support political action and goal to achieve a shift in the EU’s economy.

By 2013, and with the collaboration of all relevant stakeholders, these indicators should be agreed. For the moment, a three layer approach is provisionally proposed in Annex 6 of the Roadmap:

  1. A lead indicator – “Resource Productivity” – measured by the ratio of GDP divided by Domestic Material Consumption (euro/tons)
  2. A dashboard of complementary macro indicators on materials, water, land and carbon, and
  3. A set of theme specific indicators to measure progress towards the specific objectives and actions.

DG Environment has launched a stakeholder consultation on the “Options for resource efficiency indicators”), in which the Commission informs stakeholders about the analysis on resource efficiency indicators it has carried out so far and invites them to give their opinion.  IMA-Europe has analysed the documents provided and submitted comments

European Resource Efficiency Platform (EREP)

The EREP is a high-level stakeholder group with a 2-year mandate to deliver concrete policy recommendations to implement the Resource Efficiency Roadmap. After a first meeting in June 2012, the three main identified areas of focus  are:

  • Circular economy and greening the economy
  • Setting objectives and measuring progress
  • Framework conditions for investment in resource efficiency

Online Resource Efficiency Platform (OREP)

The OREP is a tool that aims at bringing together all relevant stakeholders. The latest developments on resource efficiency and on the work of the EREP will be published on this website. It’s a platform to exchange views and findings with other stakeholders.