Using resources more efficiently: Green Week 2011
Metals - a key resource Image © arbyreed
Experts from the European Environment Agency (EEA) will be at Green Week in Brussels to take part in the debate on resource efficiency and provide the latest data in the accompanying exhibition. The EEA is coordinating a debate on resource efficiency indicators, co-organised by the European Commission and Eurostat.
Today Europe, like much of the industrialised world, is faced with a complex problem. Our economies depend on a continuous flow of raw materials which we no longer can take for granted. In addition, this rapid consumption of resources damages the environment and produces waste. So in an increasingly populated and resource-hungry world, efficient use of limited resources is more important than ever.
Resources under pressure include non-renewable substances, such as metals, fossil fuels, chemicals and other minerals. Although other kinds of resources may be considered 'renewable', including clean water, air, animals and plant life, there are limits to the rate at which natural systems can regenerate these materials. In this way, resource efficiency cuts across traditional boundaries between environmental and economic ideas, exposing constraints and opportunities.
The EEA recently released its State and Outlook Report (SOER) 2010, which showed how accelerating resource use could lead to environmental degradation, conflict and economic disaster.
On average, Europeans use about 16 tonnes of material resources per year. Most predictions foresee continued growth in the use of material resources both in the EU and globally. Europe's demand has long exceeded its ability to generate the resources it uses. Today, 20 - 30 % of resources used are imported, and Europe's open economy relies heavily on imported raw materials, especially metals and fossil fuels. While some progress has been made in reducing the impact of this high resource consumption, such efficiency gains are wiped out by ever-higher demand for goods and services.
Green Week has established itself as the leading conference on EU environmental policy, attracting participants from government, business, non-governmental organisations, academia and the media.
The conference will also provide input to the Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe, a policy proposal being prepared by the European Commission.