Resource productivity in the EU up by 35% in 2015 compared with 2000

Resource productivity in the EU up by 35% in 2015 compared with 2000

The FINANCIAL -- In the European Union (EU), resource productivity increased to 2.00 €/kg in 2015 from 1.48 €/kg in 2000, an increase of 35.4% in real terms.

Resource productivity measures how efficiently natural resources are used by the economy and indicates whether economic growth is compatible with a more efficient use of the natural resources from the environment. Since 2008, resource productivity progressed in the EU both by increasing economic activity, as measured by GDP, and by reducing the extraction of materials, as measured by domestic material consumption (DMC). In the previous period between 2000 and 2008, GDP and domestic material consumption grew in parallel in the EU, leading to relatively constant resource productivity.

According to the new DMC estimates for 2015, 13.2 tonnes of crops, minerals and metals were consumed per inhabitant in the EU, compared with 15.5 tonnes in 2000. This reduction is equivalent to savings of 2.3 tonnes per person, meaning that in 2015 more than 6kg less was consumed per person and per day than in 2000.

This information on material flow accounts and resource productivity in the EU comes from a report issued byEurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The amount of resources used by an economy 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, e.g. disposal of waste and emissions to air and water. 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.

Resource productivity highest in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg

The level of resource productivity varies widely between the EU Member States, depending on countries' natural resources, the diversity of their industrial activities, the role played by the services sector and by construction activities, the scale and patterns of consumption and the different energy sources. Across Member States, the highest resource productivity in 2015 was recorded in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (both 3.44 €/kg), ahead of Luxembourg (3.39 €/kg) and Italy (3.04 €/kg). At the opposite end of the scale, seven Member States registered resource productivity lower than 1 €/kg: Bulgaria (0.28 €/kg), Romania (0.31 €/kg), Estonia and Latvia (both 0.50 €/kg), Poland (0.64 €/kg), Lithuania (0.80 €/kg) and Hungary (0.88 €/kg).

Largest growth in resource productivity in Spain and Cyprus

Compared with 2000, an overwhelming majority of EU Member States have seen their resource productivity in 2015 rise, with the highest increases being observed in Spain and Cyprus (both +120.3%), followed by Ireland (+98.2%), Italy (+85.4%), Slovenia (+65.9%), the United Kingdom (+64.2%) and the Czech Republic (+62.1%). In contrast, decreases were recorded in Romania (-35.8%), Estonia (-19.1%) and Malta (-7.6%).

Resource productivity mainly driven by domestic material consumption

An analysis of the resource productivity components helps to explain these developments. The Member States recording the highest increases in resource productivity were generally also those where domestic material consumption decreased the most. This was particularly the case for Italy, Cyprus and Spain where DMC almost halved between 2000 and 2015. Similarly, those Member States registering a decrease in resource productivity between 2000 and 2015 are those where domestic material consumption significantly increased over the same period: Romania and Estonia notably where DMC has more than double between 2000 and 2015, as well as Malta to a lesser extent.