In the European Union (EU), resource productivity increased from 1.53 €/kg in 2002 to 1.95 €/kg in 2014, an increase of 27.8% in real terms.
This was not however a steady increase. After remaining relatively stable between 2002 and the beginning of the economic and financial crisis, resource productivity in the EU increased considerably from 2008 to 2010, before dropping in 2011, and growing again since then.
Resource productivity quantifies the relation between economic activity (GDP) and the consumption of natural resources (domestic material consumption – DMC) and sheds light on how efficiently natural resources are used. Between 2002 and 2008, GDP and domestic material consumption grew in parallel in the EU, leading to relatively constant resource productivity. Since 2008, domestic material consumption has fallen considerably, while GDP has grown more moderately, leading to a noticeable increase in resource productivity.
In other words, since 2008, the EU has been doing more with less. Knowledge of the amount of resources used by a given socioeconomic system is very important for the purpose of understanding the interaction between this system and the environment. The use of material resources indeed plays a crucial role in the generation of environmental pressures, from the extraction of natural resources for production and consumption activities to materials released into the environment by the economic system, e.g. disposal of waste and greenhouse gas emissions.
Moving towards a circular economy is at the heart of the resource efficiency agenda established under the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. A Eurostat press release can be found here.
Courtesy of Eurostat