More from less – material resource efficiency in Europe

This report presents an overview of approaches to material resource efficiency and to circular economy in thirty two European countries. It explores similarities and differences in national policy responses, with respect to policy objectives, priority resources and sectors, driving forces, targets and indicators, and the institutional setup. The report also reviews the EU policy framework for resource efficiency and analyses trends in material use and resource productivity between 2000 and 2014. Finally, it includes a number of considerations for the development of future policies on material resource efficiency and the circular economy.

More from less – material resource efficiency in Europe

Key findings:

  • Only 3 countries (Ausria, Finland and Germany) adopted dedicated national strategies for material resource efficiency
  • Most of the improvements in resource productivity occurred between 2007 and 2014, although not necessarily as a result of a comprehensive policy intervention. The gains were mostly due to the sharp decline in construction activity as a result of the economic crisis that started in 2007-2008, which led to huge falls in material use, but had rather limited impact on gross domestic product.
  • A majority of countries (26) identified certain waste streams and secondary materials as the most common group of priority materials. Key waste streams are plastic and packaging (17 countries), construction and demolition waste (16 countries), and food waste (15 countries). Energy sources, like fossil fuels and including renewables, were mentioned by 18 countries as priority resources.
  • Manufacturing was singled out most frequently as the key economic sector for improving material resource efficiency, followed by agriculture and forestry, construction, and waste management.
  • Germany, the Netherlands, and the region of Flanders (Belgium) reported having a dedicated circular economy strategy, which aims to create a production and consumption system that generates little waste and keeps materials in use for as long as possible.

Source: EEA (2016): Resource efficiency in Europe: benefits of doing more with less. EEA Report No 10/2016. Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European Union