The material footprint indicator is based on two components:
· domestic extraction of materials, by material group, as reported to Eurostat
· estimates of raw material equivalents (RMEs) for imports and exports.
The term ‘RME’ indicates the full accounting for resources extracted to produce final products. While, for domestic extraction RMEs equal domestic material extraction, RMEs need to be estimated for imports to the EU of raw materials, and semi- and finished products.
The difference in the calculations, compared with the more well-known domestic material consumption (DMC) is that the material footprint includes all materials needed to produce the products imported into the EU, while the DMC only includes the weight of imports when these cross the EU border. The material footprint, therefore, is more comprehensive in revealing the actual materials used by EU citizens. For example, in 2019, imports make up 27% of DMC, while they make up 53% of the material footprint.
The Eurostat-derived data is described in Eurostat (2021).
For country data, gap filling was performed for (1) missing values at the start or end of time series, where the value was assumed equal to the first available value; and (2) missing values between reported values, calculated by extrapolation.
The European Green Deal explicitly calls for a decoupling of economic growth from resource extraction, which translates into continuously decreasing resource consumption in a growing economy. The material footprint accounts for a life cycle approach to material extraction, accounting not only for the weight of materials imported/exported to the EU, but also for the materials needed to produce these imports/exports. The footprint provides a fuller picture of the resources needed to satisfy EU demand.
The Eighth Environment Action Programme (8th EAP) includes an aim to significantly decrease the Union’s material footprint (Article 3.s.). This indicator is likely to be a headline indicator for monitoring progress towards achieving the aims of the 8th EAP. It will mainly help by monitoring progress towards achieving by 2030 aspects of the 8th EAP priority objective set out in Article 2.2.a: ‘advancing towards a well-being economy that gives back to the planet more than it takes and accelerating the transition to a non-toxic circular economy, where growth is regenerative, resources are used efficiently and sustainably, and the waste hierarchy is applied’.
No uncertainties have been specified.